REVIEW: WEALD (Finborough Theatre)

Weald is an intimate and atmospheric play about two men on a livery yard in rural England. It is an ideal piece for the tiny space at the Finborough, and the complex relationship between Samuel (David Crellin) and Jim (Dan Parr) is put under an affectionate but honest microscope.

Weald deals with the shifting sands of gender roles and the stereotypes attached to ‘being a man’ in the modern world. Jim has returned to the yard after years of being away in London and feels he has nothing to show for it. Samuel seems to live in the past and in his own head, and is increasingly isolated from the world around him.

There are some fairly major twists and turns to the plot as each character reveals their secrets to the other and to the audience. Daniel Foxsmith’s narrative creates a fraught situation in which both men need help and have no idea how to ask for it. It’s hugely empathetic and yet resists sentimentality – not always an easy thing to do when you’re evoking scenes of rural England which many people will find nostalgic.

David Crellin and Dan Parr give nuanced and powerful performances, with Crellin’s gruffness providing the perfect counterpoint to Parr’s vulnerability. Their easy, natural chemistry is a pleasure to watch and allows the greater depths of the story to emerge, thanks to Bryony Shanahan’s skilled direction.

Weald is cleverly staged and keeps an energetic, upbeat tempo throughout. You’ll leave with a warmer heart but fresh questions about where home really is and whether people who say they are fine are actually fine at all.

Reviewed by Annabel Mellor
Photo: Alex Brenner

Weald is playing at the Finborough Theatre until 27 February 2016