The Cider House Rules

John Irving is a unique modern storyteller who creates rich plots inhabited with vivid characters, much in the same style as Dickens. In The Cider House Rules, Irving weaved a tale spanning several decades about the issues of abortion and adoption.

Peter Parnell's stage adaptation of The Cider House Rules is an important play to see even if only because it so rarely gets staged. The original 1996 production in Seattle was a seven-hour, two-part epic under the direction of Tom Hulce and Jane Jones and invited comparisons with the RSC's famous eight-hour production of Nicholas Nickleby.

The Vertical Theatre Company have brought The Cider House Rules to Edinburgh, although it is now condensed into two-and-a-half hours in two parts. Still a large commitment of time on the Fringe, but not one to be missed.

There are two main protagonists; Dr. Wilbur Larch (James Sanderson) and Homer Wells (Matt Runham). Dr. Larch runs a New England orphanage called St Clouds, where he quietly performs illegal abortions. Larch protects his orphans with a tender touch, but has become an ether addict to relieve the pain of venereal disease - contracted during his one and only sexual experience with a whore. Homer is one of the orphans, who - after being rejected many times - looks set to spend the rest of his life at St Clouds, but eventually becomes Larch's surrogate son. Homer is doted on by nurses Edna and Angela (played with great humour by Rhiannon Stalinski and Louisa Theobald) and loved by fellow orphan Melony (Skilfully acted by Kezia Cole).

During his time at St Clouds, Homer learns Larch's skills as a doctor and assists in the abortions until Homer comes to his own moral conclusions and refuses to do more.

Part 1 of the play deals with Homer's time at St Clouds. In part 2, Homer leaves the orphanage and lives with the Worthington's on their apple orchard. In my own personal opinion, I think part 2 offers more for the audience in that it's more of an ensemble piece and gives the cast a chance to shine in their roles. That's not to dismiss part 1, which is as engaging and necessary as the second.

Sanderson and Runham in the lead parts both give solid performances, which could be described as much better than average for student theatre. Ross McGregor's direction is well handled and original, using the physicality of the actors to create a vibrant piece of theatre.

As chances to see The Cider House Rules don't come along that often, don't ignore this opportunity.

Reviews by Pete Shaw

Good Grief

★★★★
The Phoenix Arts Club Facebook Live Page

Live From The Phoenix Flat

★★★★★
Crescent - The Vaults

Over My Dad's Body

★★★★
Greenwich Theatre

Sleeping Beauty

★★★★★
Christmas in Leicester Square

La Clique

★★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

The Blurb

C Electric. 4-29 Aug. Part 1 even dates, Part 2 odd dates. 5pm (1 hour 15 minutes)

Most Popular See More

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets