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Posts Tagged ‘Rhiannon Neads’

The Finborough Theatre has a knack of rediscovering forgotten plays and this is a particularly fascinating one, not seen here for seventy-five years, which gets as fine a production as you could wish for.

Emlyn Williams was writing in the second world war about events ninety years earlier, at the time of the Crimean War. It’s set in a mountain village in North Wales where Dilys has been widowed by that war, whilst her niece Menna has found love with someone returning from it. The other members of her household are her servant Bet and Bet’s teenage son Gwyn. Village teacher Ambrose, who left and made a new life as a circus proprietor in Birmingham, has returned in search of an attraction for his shows, following his assistant Pitter, who is researching his book on this village, where a disaster left it without children and faith. There’s an outbreak of cholera at the military hospital that threatens the life of Menna’s new man, and young Gwyn displays spiritual powers. The village seems to have found faith once more, Ambrose born again and there is an influx of followers.

It seems to be a parable about war and healing, a fascinating, intriguing period piece which may not appeal to everyone in a contemporary audience, but whatever you think of it, Will Maynard’s production is simply superb, having to convey as much offstage as on. He’s given it a traverse staging, complemented by an excellent set and costumes from Ceci Calf & Isobel Pellow respectively. A hugely atmospheric soundscape and music by Justin Starr & Rhiannon Drake adds much. A uniformly fine cast is led by Rhiannon Neads as Dilys, with newcomer Kristy Philipps very impressive as Menna. Benedict Barker’s role as Gwyn is mute but he does a great job of conveying its mystery and spirituality.

The Finborough punching above its weight again. A must see.

 

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