The Wolves Are Coming by Joel Horwood. The Brockley Jack Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 to 17 July 2021. 4****. William Russell

In a small village the rumour starts that there are wolves in the woods. Joel Horwood’s two hander is about fake news, about how rumours spread and become fact, and how people’s behaviour influences what happens – a distraught mother, whose daughter is missing, creates havoc when a village meeting is called to discuss the situation. It is a powerful piece although possible a shade too long and might have worked better without an interval which would have allowed the tension as things start to get completely out of hand to build up to its climax – which is, of course, when it is all revealed as imaginations gone haywire. But director Kate Bannister has kept the action flowing and there is a terrific set by Karl Swinyard. When you have lots of money to spend terrific sets are pretty well obligatory, but when pennies count they are essential and this one, basically projections of a mysterious wood on a series of panels, a couple of small platforms, and a table is a beauty. It means you sit down expecting something good to follow but knowing that it is not going to be all sunlight and jollity, even if there is some line dancing. There is no faulting the performances of Brigid Lohrey and Grace Cookey-Gam who play all the villagers from teenagers doing what teenagers do to the local police chief, an elderly farmer intent on shooting anything that comes near her sheep, the frantic mother of the missing girl who seizes on everything to imagine the worst, the vicar no better than he should be and the local schoolteacher facing up to the reason why the girl has not turned up for school. It is a nicely steamy brew of characters and they create them pretty well out of thin air and the most minimal of costume changes. It is the theatre’s first in house production since it re-opened and is worth catching – the Jack is socially distanced and as safe as it can be.
Brigid Lohrey
Grace Coohey-Gam
Director: Kate Bannister.
Set Designer: Karl Swinyard.
Sound designer: Philip Matejschuk.
Lighting designer: Robbie Butler.
Choreography: Aimee Louise Bevan.

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