Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews


The Wood

Torch Theatre - Milford Haven , Sherman Theatre Cardiff , March-12-18
 The Wood by Torch Theatre  - Milford Haven We walk into ‘The Wood’ as we take our seats. Sean Crowley ‘s very fine, evocative clearing in Mametz Wood, shaded in autumnal russet by Andrew Sturley’s perfect lighting set the atmosphere for this new example of the fine lyrical writing of Owen Thomas, based on an idea by Ifan Huw Daffyd.

An elderly man, Dan enters and takes us a little further into the wood. Ifan Huw Daffyd draws us a subtle multi-layered character. Old age has brought him some comfort but at this moment standing on a spot where he stood, as a young soldier, many years ago, with the blasts of the First World War bursting in his ears, he begins to feel uncomfortable.

He begins to relive some of the scenes of battle, his walking stick becomes his rifle, he fixes his bayonet to it and stares into the eyes of an enemy soldier. Daffyd succeeds well in taking us into these awful memories with him. He lost his closest friend in the battle and he is here seeking out the memory of those last moments together.

We see the young dead friend, Billy and we are soon able to appreciate the strength of their relationship as they start to relive some of those terrible experiences. Gwydion Rhys is so utterly convincing as the young, still-uniformed soldier. The emotional impact on us grows as we learn more about the strong relationship that developed between them. A ‘battlefield’ relationship that has brought them even closer together.

The actors convincingly bring the warmth that developed between them, so vividly to life. As we get near to Billy’s last moments they make a pact. Later we learn how well Dan fulfilled that pact. And more love and tenderness fills the air; particularly as the play ends and they scatter the ‘gift’ that Dan has brought Billy onto the floor of Mametz Wood.

Director Peter Doran and his creative team have all worked so well together to bring us this almost prefect piece if the art of theatre. And once again the message of the futility of self-destruction is laid before us.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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