Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

“A tale of friendship, love and sacrifice set against the backdrop of a world in flames...”

The Wood

Torch Theatre, Milford Haven , Torch Theatre, Milford Haven , February 20, 2018
The Wood by Torch Theatre, Milford Haven WOODS have a special place in the hearts of storytellers - places of terror, wonder and fantasy. All those elements are to be found in the latest play from the creative team which brought us the award-winning one-man show ‘Grav’.
In ‘The Wood’ author Owen Thomas and Peter Doran, artistic director of the Torch Theatre at Milford Haven, have created a moving and memorable drama set on the site of one of the Somme’s bloodiest First World War battles.
Mametz Wood was a baptism of fire for the raw recruits of the 38th (Welsh) regiment which suffered losses and injuries numbering more than 3,000 over the course of six days. That story is told here with great effect in an intense two-hander focusing on the relationship between a pair of brothers-in-arms, one who died in the conflict and another who returns to Mametz 50 years later to lay some ghosts to rest.
This is an account of the horrors of war uncomfortably close-up and personal – a riveting performance by Ifan Huw Dafydd whose original idea provided the inspiration for the script, as the old soldier and too by promising young actor Gwydion Rhys, whose role as the young man who died is considerably less meaty.
In the timeless and atmospheric wood that designer Sean Crowley has conjured, the different mood swings of the writing add considerably to the power of this production. The eloquence, for example, of the larks “laughing at our collective stupidity”; the blunt realism of shooting the enemy: “hardly people at that distance”; and then the gruesome hand-to-hand description of gouging a German’s eyes out.
The relationship of the two soldiers was perhaps less convincing. Where there might have been the seeds of conflict or disagreement (Dan, the survivor, has after all married Billy’s widow and brought up his son as his own without telling him about his real father) there is only love and acceptance.
But perhaps there is a logic there too, for the author has a point to make about the one thing that is even more powerful than war – love.
And so – in a year that we remember 100 years since the end of that brutal conflict - say all of us.

Reviewed by: Eifion Jenkins

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