Theatre Halliwell, Trinity College, Carmarthen, Mon 12 Dec 2011, 7.30pm, £7/£5
Chapter, Cardiff, Tues 13 Dec 2011, 8pm, £4 on the door
The Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea, Wed 14 Dec 2011, 7.30pm, £4
The Riverfront, Newport, Thurs 15 Dec 2011, 7.45pm, £4
Another Welsh premiere of a play by Welsh playwright Gary Owen – this time brought to us as an “On The Edge” rehearsed reading from theWelsh Fargo Stage Company at Chapter, Cardiff. This was “Free Folk”, originally commissioned and toured by the Forest Forge Theatre Company in 2010 – a tightly plotted comedy drama whose action pivots around a rain-drenched incident of rustic petty crime which escalates into the kind of hostage situation in which most of the victims don’t realise they’re being held hostage. It’s instigated by wide-boy Shaun (Gary Knowles, clearly enjoying having the most complex characterisation to play with) who, with his unwilling accomplice, the justifiably nervy incomer Karen (Nikki Warwick), finds himself trapped in the home of the elderly, set-in-her-ways Pearl (Liz Edney); they’re later joined by petulant teen couple Tim and Hannah (recent graduates Simon Mullins and Stephanie Garratt). The direction by Elise Davison was cleverly fluent, the actors encouraged to abandon their scripts to enhance some of the more comic moments; although the decision to ask them to add their own sound effects (e.g. for the opening and closing of car doors) prompted audience giggles, which I found distracting. The author being fond of a monologue, the characters are all given room within the narrative to elucidate their back-stories, such that the moments of self-discovery on which they end are generally satisfying, in an essentially optimistic piece which reflects highly entertainingly on issues of home, belonging, and the concept of the rural idyll.
Othniel Smith (blakeson.blogspot.co.uk)