Review: Adrian Lester returns as Ira Aldridge in the excellent Red Velvet, Garrick Theatre
Rehearsal photos: Donmar Warehouse's Welcome Home, Captain Fox! (with the lovely Rory Keenan)

Review: Moving on from the past in Weald, Finborough Theatre

(c) Alex Brenner, no usage without credit; Weald (Snuffbox) @ Finborough Theatre 6
David Crellin and Dan Parr as Sam and Jim in Weald, Finborough Theatre. Photo courtesy of Alex Brenner

Daniel Foxsmith's play Weald is set on a livery yard in rural England. Jim (Dan Parr) has returned there looking for work after six years away and Sam (David Crellin) reluctantly agrees. His reluctance speaks silently of past trouble between the two and Foxsmith's play slowly unravels their history. But there is more to it than that.

 Sam is steady and methodical but grumpy, there is an underlying toxic mix of betrayal and regret which gradually comes to the surface. Jim is full of youthful exuberance, a whirlwind in Sam's quiet routine, but it is an emotional ruse to hide or deny his true feelings.

Ironically Jim needs the stability of the work with the horses in order to move forward, while his return seems to push Sam deeper into the past. There is also bitter irony in that what Sam wanted most in his life but couldn't have, Jim achieves by accident and doesn't really appreciate or not initially at least.

On a wider level Weald feels like a play about not living your life through others, that you can only create your own happiness. Both Jim and Sam seek a sense of purpose but they differ in how they deal with failure. And in that vein it is also a play about heritage and how wedded you should be to the past and tradition. 

Both have buried their feelings over the past six years and it takes the work with the horses to unlock them. 

The oblong stage is simply dressed at one end with various bits of livery stable equipment - feed bowls, lunge ropes etc - plus a telephone that often rings but is ignored. Parr and Crellin work through the various stable tasks as they unpack the past and in doing so create a real sense of a working stable, in fact you feel a credible attachment to the horses they look after. 

In the end there are some emotional tugs but Weald doesn't quite build enough head of steam to make it a really powerful piece. It is 80 minutes without and interval and runs at the Finborough Theatre until February 27 and it's getting a good three stars from me.