Weald, the new play by Daniel Foxsmith currently playing at the Finborough Theatre, is a funny and intriguing piece about rural life in England and the bond between men.
The premise is that Jim arrives home after six years away in need of work at a livery yard. It is only temporary as he needs the work. Sam, the older man and father figure to him, reluctantly agrees.
As they get back to work, it is as if they were picking up where they left off. But in the years since Jim left, both have changed. The harsh economic realities for both of them mean that things are going to be as they were before.
The story of the economic decline of rural England is familiar enough. But what's great about this play is that its a story of two strong male characters. The humour, the conversations that trail off and the bonding over a cup of tea.
David Crellin as Sam captures the cragginess and humour of a man who has seen it all. While Dan Parr as Jim captures the enthusiasm and contradictions of a young man who wants a simple life, yet has commitments and obligations. The two men bond well together and give this play its strength.
The rural setting is also evocative from both the writing and clever staging by Director Bryony Shanahan. It is beautifully realised in the space of the Finborough.
All told it is a gentle observation of male bonding until the bloody climax. The ending seems a little rushed (and a bit shocking) for what had been the steady pace up to that point. But along the way it was insightful and funny.
Weald is a Snuff Box Theatre production playing at the Finborough Theatre through to 27 February.
Photos by Alex Brenner.