This production is a premiere of The Park Keeper and appropriately is a Park Bench Theatre show. It is the first park keeper’s account of his time in charge of Rowntree Park. He took the job in 1921 and retired in 1945 so his tenure saw massive changes in York. To him the park is his kingdom and seems like heaven when compared to the world outside. He loves his job and doesn’t want to retire but we find him sitting on a bench contemplating his retirement speech.
By Angie Millard
Feature photo by Northedge Photography
Sean McKenzie plays the role of the keeper, nick-named ‘Parky Bell’ who was famous for blowing his whistle if he saw any misbehaviour. He lived with his family in the lodge which is now the café. McKenzie is an experienced and accomplished actor who creates an entirely credible character. His account of living through two wars and the deaths they brought is sad but the sentiments are familiar.
Mike Kenny has long been linked to York Theatre Royal and, as well as adapting the 2012 Mystery Play, he has written and been involved with all of the Community Theatre projects created since. However, I felt as Parky Bell was in soliloquy mode we could have been given a little more insight into his psychology.
This is Matt Aston’s second season of plays in Rowntree Park and we owe him gratitude for his work in keeping theatre alive during the last year. It was a damp evening but still very enjoyable to be a member of an audience once more.
The Park Keeper will be performed at Rowntree Park until 17 July 2021.