‘brimming with indomitable Welsh spirit’
The industrial heartlands of Wales have slowly had the heart torn out of them, first with the destruction of the mining industry and then with the death by a thousand cuts of a decade of austerity. As the last factory in town is set to be demolished, four unlikely friends gather to mourn its passing and to chew the fat. They’ve all had a pretty tough time recently but pray for a better future.
Mary (Gwenllian Higginson) has done well for herself and is the manager of a clothes shop but with authority comes responsibility and she’s had a difficult time with unlucky employee Siân. Ray (Liam Tobin) is former military but now spends his days drinking and dreaming. Gareth (Berwyn Pearce) is a bouncy tigger-like young man who could have gone to university if only he’d had the train fare to get to the interview. The final member of the quartet is sad-faced Syrian refugee Timmy (Karim Bedda) who doesn’t speak a word of English but expresses his feelings so eloquently via the violin he keeps in an old Lidl bag.
Ray has a light aircraft under a tarp - the improbably named Karen- and plans to fly them all to Latin America just as their ancestors did all those years ago. Aberdare High Street to Cuba and all the peanuts you can eat!
Despite the grim undertones there is a spring in the step of this play: this bunch has the grim resilience of South Wales in their blood. The humour is fabulous and writer and director Boulton switches pace between side-splitting comedy and heart-breaking with consummate ease.
Mary is the beating heart of the tale and the action switches between her account of the hapless Siân and the plans to get the aircraft off the ground. Their efforts are silly, sweet and utterly heart-breaking, linked together by some beautifully choregraphed movement from Emma Vickery and Timmy’s violin music- stunning composition from David Grubb. The set by Anna Kelsey is simple and functional and allows the energetic quartet of actors to push the boundaries of imagination and to bring the audience into their fantastical world.
Quirky, funny and brimming with indomitable Welsh spirit, Exodus would also make a great indie film. Go see it, mun.
Exodus by Rachael Boulton
Directed by Rachael Boulton
Presented by Motherlode in co-production with RCT Theatres and in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre
Finborough Theatre 4 - 20 November 2018
Siân Rowland is a playwright and comedy writer represented by Kitson Press.