Hidden Depths celebrates the murky past of Bude Canal

Who’d have thought Bude Canal could be so much fun?  If you’ve got a spare evening tonight or tomorrow, why not pop down to Budehaven where you will be guaranteed a good time watching a play on this very subject?

To mark the 200th anniversary of Bude Canal, Richard Wolfenden – Brown, Bude Youth Theatre director, created an original play with fabulous music (by Thomas Marples) performed at the school, which ends on Saturday 30th March. If you don’t have tickets already, get some, because it is a real treat for the whole family to enjoy.

I learned things about the canal I didn’t previously know in this informative but also poignant play, with moments of darkness but also high comedy. There are some marvellous acting, comedic and musical talents among the cast.

The play centres on the Smale family, who visit Bude for a day trip. Meredith Smale, aged 12, played by Iona Rowlands, uncovers hidden depths to the canal, but to know more you really need to see it, so I won’t spoil the storyline here. Focused around real stories about real people, performed adeptly, the play could not fail to enthral.

It would be unfair to pick out any particular cast members as being a talented crew, they all worked so well together as a group, and a number played multiple parts. What really came across was what a great time the cast was having; these youngsters were having amazing fun on stage. It was infectious, as the audience, through their applause demonstrated so clearly. What a full-of-life evening from these vivacious and committed youngsters. Well done to them for putting in the time and effort to create something so fitting and celebratory of Bude’s Canal.

The full cast

Scene from the play

Having a great time

Iona Rowlands

The cast of 25 local youngsters performed with incredible energy, giving us a taste of the hidden depths of the canal. We learned how work on the canal started, the main characters involved, and also how its heyday ended.  I must admit, I wondered if a play about the canal might be a little dull, but the script was humorous and there were some uplifting scenes (but also some very sad ones).

Thomas Marples’ musical contribution was brilliant as ever, and I am sure he will be missed by the Youth Theatre in future. The choreography by Clare Collingham was amazing, too. Loved the power walkers! Indeed, in exploring the hidden depths of Bude, we encounter on stage the many types of people who use the canal on a regular basis, captured brilliantly by these aspiring actors. See for yourselves.

Performances this evening and Saturday.


Bude Youth Theatre was invited by the Bude Canal & Harbour Society to create this original musical theatre piece which is suitable for all the family.

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