The foot and mouth epidemic that ripped through farms in 2001 serves as the devastating background for, And Then Come the Nightjars.
This critically acclaimed play, penned by exciting young writer Bea Roberts, is set in south Devon just as Foot and Mouth takes hold.
The play follows Jeff, a dairy vet with a problem and Michael, a cattle farmer, who is a problem.
The two men have a begrudging respect for each other and a blossoming friendship based on sharing a fag, a nip of whisky, and boisterous banter. But when the disease sweeps through the British countryside, with the government decreeing that even apparently healthy cattle be slaughtered, farming communities are thrown into chaos. Michael watches, in grief-stricken disbelief, the shooting of his beloved cows. He also watches his friend brandish the gun.
By turns heart-breaking and hilarious, it is a tender portrait of male friendship, and a requiem to a seemingly lost rural life.
Directed by Paul Robinson and starring Finlay Welsh and Nigel Hastings, this play went on to be nominated for six Off West End Theatre Awards, including Most Promising Playwright. Bea Roberts was also nominated for the prestigious Susan Blackburn Smith prize.