Weald, currently showing at the Finborough is a new play by prize winning writer Daniel Foxsmith. A poignant story about the bond between two men, Weald captures the spirit of a friendship surviving through every day difficulties.
Jim (Dan Parr) returns to his home in an unknown rural English town and turns up on Samuel’s (David Crellin) doorstep looking for work in his livery yard. From the moment we see the pair we notice in their awkward greeting that they have history. Initially angry with Jim for leaving him, the horses and his riding talent behind for a life in London Samuel slowly warms up to the energetic young man, teaching him to care for the horses.
As the story progresses external pressure mounts on both men and they are pushed to their limits. Samuel has debts and Jim has got a girl pregnant and as the reality of these facts begin to take hold the cracks in their relationship deepen.
Although both Crellin and Parr tackle the duologue with energy they have a hard task to keep the momentum up for the 75 minute play. There are times when a lack of action causes the narrative to drag and the ending slips over into unrealistic melodrama when Samuel flies into a biblical rage and kills all the horses. This is frustrating as overall it works as a simple story about the relationship between two imperfect men who nevertheless learn from each other. Crellin is a powerful actor but sometimes his voice and gestures feel too theatrical for the stoic farmer character he his playing. Parr’s rendition of the fiery Jim is very convincing and together the actors satisfyingly portray the ordinary ebb and flow of a tempestuous friendship, realistically re-creating the behavioural patterns of reprimand and forgiveness, flaring temper and the calm aftermath of an argument.
Christopher Hone’s raised, diagonal set is a highlight of the production. Through the simple idea of placing the action in the middle of the livery yard we can imagine the horses that we cannot see.
Weald is let down by a patchy overcomplicated plot. At the heart of it however is an original idea, a well-researched and imagined odd couple story. It captures two modern men struggling with the consequences of their actions and it reminds us of the enduring nature of lifelong friendship.