SALT, ROOT AND ROE
by Tim Price.
Clwyd Theatr Cymru (Emlyn Williams Theatre) CH7 1YA To 4 May.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Sat Mat 2.45pm.
Audio-described 2 May, 4 May 2.45pm.
Post-show Discussion 2 May.
TICKETS: 0845 330 3565.
then Sherman Theatre (Theatre 2) Senghennydd Road CF24 4YE 7-11 May 2013.
TICKETS: 029 2064 6900.
Runs 1hr 45min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 27 April.
This life and a sense of something beyond movingly caught.
A journalist who’s moved into playwriting, Tim Price doesn’t merely write journalism in dialogue. Rooted though his plays For Once and now this are, they show an instinctive dramatic sense of structure and tonal complexity, giving his dramatic work a satisfying richness, a sense of direction that doesn’t limit the imaginative journey of characters and action.
Price, and his play, are Welsh. A Celtic fairy atmosphere hangs around the Pembrokeshire coastline where elderly Anest and Iola live. A sense of isolation reflects their world, a lifelong sisterhood that’s its own existence, threatened with extinction by Iola’s crumbling mind. What is there left to live for?
The remoteness, which Price makes real, is also inner. Anest’s daughter Menna can rush to them, the police are around to set up rescue operations; one, Gareth, seems a family friend. But all this counts for little beside the sense of the older women’s lives winding down. Stories of their origins, found in a lobster-pot, have their own poetic authority more powerful than obstetric fact and link them to a different dimension of existence.
Yet, in a play taking its title from Dylan Thomas, there’s no going gentle into a dark and stormy night. Tied by their identical red coats, and finally, literally, by the childhood skipping-rope that links their final steps, Betsan Llwyd and Sara Harris-Davies have a world together which Price, having located on the coastline shows crumbling like wave-battered cliffs, as Iola breaks into uncontrollable shouts of obscenity and Anest is devastated when her sister seems to reject her in a sudden attachment to Menna, to whom Catrin Aaron brings sympathetic love and practical frustration where reason reaches the limits of its power. In the background, Brendan Charleson’s Gareth represents daily practicality.
The overlapping borderline between objective fact and subjective reality as features of the mind, and on a larger scale between modern daily life and the pull of a more encompassing myth-based reality, is powerfully supported by Colin Towns’ score in a sympathetic production b y Kate Wasserberg, which matches a sense of the past with sharply-focused detail in the present.
Anest Owen: Betsan Llwyd.
Iola Hughes: Sara Harris-Davies.
Gareth Rowlands: Brendan Charleson.
Menna Hopkins: Catrin Aaron.
Director: Kate Wasserberg.
Designer: Ruth Hall.
Lighting: Nick Beadle.
Sound: Matthew Williams.
Composer: Colin Towns.
Voice coach: Sally Hague.
Fights: Rachel Bown-Williams.