Home / Drama / The Woods – The Royal Court – London

The Woods – The Royal Court – London

Writer: Robert Alan Evans

Director: Lucy Morrision

Reviewer: Nina Reece

A cabin in the woods is the setting for a play in which a mother cares for her only son. Or is it? As Robert Alan Evans’s ‘Woman’, Lesley Sharp gives yet another outstanding performance. The clarity she brings to a role that swerves from cabin-bound witch to guilt-racked Deep South Xanax Mom, provides the only thread to which the audience must cling in the absence of any other clarity. What is clear, however, is that the mind of ‘Woman’ is not a safe place. It is the cabin, the flashes of thunder, cries of anguish, and dark black woods of trees with branches that ‘go right down inside and crawl

What is clear, however, is that the mind of ‘Woman’ is not a safe place. It is the cabin, the flashes of thunder, cries of anguish, and dark black woods of trees with branches that ‘go right down inside and crawl though you… leave you with nothing’. It is a wolf, sometimes ‘in sheep’s clothing’ but also in a tracksuit and a supermarket uniform; a wolf that seeks only to torment her and make her remember. But remember what? An unspeakable act only alluded to in the final moments, the withholding of which is damaging. Once Tom Mothersdale settles fully into his ‘Wolf’ it is a complex beast; he weaves

An unspeakable act only alluded to in the final moments, the withholding of which is damaging. Once Tom Mothersdale settles fully into his ‘Wolf’ it is a complex beast; he weaves humour, tenderness and menace to deliciously unsettling effect. Similarly, Charles Furness’ ‘Kid’ — though given an undoubtedly smaller task — impresses for an actor on only his fourth stage appearance, exhibiting Casting Director Amy Ball’s keen eye for vulnerability.

However, in denying clarity, Evans asks a lot from an audience who must traverse years, miles, lives, and worlds –  leaping from traditional fairytale to urban motorway and back again. Perhaps he asks just a bit too much. And yet, there are several payoffs, not least including the production. Naomi Dawson’s set is extraordinary from the very moment one enters the Jerwood Upstairs. The smell of pine and feel of woodchip underfoot, actual trees winding around the entire theatre and a bright slice of disturbingly Ikea-perfect kitchen suspended above. Anthony Arblaster and Tom Gibbons’ respective light and sound design builds and layers the tension like a house of horrors by the Brothers Grimm, and the physicality of the players, under Movement Director Vicki Igbokwe, works equally as hard to bring the drama to life.

In The Woods, Evans careens through the roles women play in modern society: sexual object, mother, witch and crone, in a manner that is so dizzyingly disturbing that it seems to suggest one question – how is anyone to be all of these things and remain sane? Such is the significance of this question that one wonders if the play shouldn’t ask it much sooner, with more volume and then give it the space it deserves. In short –  Sharp elevates what is a beautifully staged production of

In short –  Sharp elevates what is a beautifully staged production of razor-sharp writing above the status of a play that obscures its own themes – one simply cannot see ‘The Woods’ for the trees.

Runs until Saturday 20 October 2018 | Image: Manuel Harlan

Writer: Robert Alan Evans Director: Lucy Morrision Reviewer: Nina Reece A cabin in the woods is the setting for a play in which a mother cares for her only son. Or is it? As Robert Alan Evans’s ‘Woman’, Lesley Sharp gives yet another outstanding performance. The clarity she brings to a role that swerves from cabin-bound witch to guilt-racked Deep South Xanax Mom, provides the only thread to which the audience must cling in the absence of any other clarity. What is clear, however, is that the mind of ‘Woman’ is not a safe place. It is the cabin, the…

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Beautifully Staged

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The Reviews Hub - London
The Reviews Hub London is under the editorship of John Roberts.The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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