In Sunshine and In Shadow is the second play from the brilliant welsh playwright Alan Osborne’s Merthyr Trilogy. Part of a series called On The Edge, it presents script-held performances of plays by Wales’ best dramatists as featured in Hazel Walford Davies’ 2006 book, Now You’re Talking.In Sunshine and In Shadow portrays a family torn apart by poverty, addiction and secrets from the past. Set in Merthyr Tydfil, “the biggest council estate in Europe,” it explores how a cruel and ignorant society represses its natural artists, marking them out as different and wrong.
Gerri Smith shines in the lead role of the Mother, Vee, a wilting songstress wrought to death by her failed dreams, personal tragedy and raging drug addiction. Her exchanges with her severely disabled but gifted son Ga Ga, played by Alex Harries, vividly communicate how their creativity alienates them from their neighbours on the estate.
Despite being more than 20 years old, the play has lost none of its power, seeming more relevant as a piece of social commentary in a culture of Hoodies and ASBOs and where the wealth divide seems as strong as ever. Osborne’s gift for emphasising the poetry of the south Welsh vernacular breeds dialogue that is believable and haunting, animated to great effect by a sterling cast.
Packed into a small hot room it feels like a genuine piece of underground Welsh drama has been resurrected for one night only, with all the power and trepidation that a single performance can bring. A low-tech renaissance indeed and simply stunning.