Robert Thomson’s Fearnot Wood is some of the best and most fully-realised student writing I have ever come across. Darkly comic and painfully tragic, this production oozes with the threat of some unforeseeable tragedy. The entire stage, the very air of the theatre, feels infected with its ominous potential.
Fearnot Wood is brought to life by the incredibly strong acting from the whole cast.
The play follows Garth (Eoin Bentick) who, having disappeared without a trace for the last five years, returns to his childhood home to celebrate bonfire night with childhood friends. However, not only is the town not as he left it, but his act of escapism cannot prevent the sinister repercussions of the events of the last five years from forcing themselves onto the stage, jeopardising the lives of the friends he once left behind.
We fear so much the threat Garth’s return presents because Thomson’s skilful character development makes it impossible not to invest in the fates of his old friends. Harriet (Josie Charles) and Dylan (Daniel Rogers), the more comic characters of the play, are wonderfully human and wonderfully likeable. The play’s wit has an awkward charm which gives it a sensitivity alongside its silliness. Because of this, we are desperate for Harriet and Dylan not to be engulfed by the impending disaster which is ever looming over the stage, threatening to swallow it whole.
Fearnot Wood is brought to life by the incredibly strong acting from the whole cast. The performers have a great energy and are equally captivating in lighter, comic scenes and in those which are tensely dark. The lyrical monologues which pepper the script and deviate from what is an otherwise highly naturalistic play might have felt forced and artificial performed by a lesser cast. However, these more stylised sections of the play are handled with such delicacy as not to disrupt the realism on which the audience’s connection with the characters depends.
This is an intense and clever piece of theatre from an incredibly talented young writer, performed by a cast who deserve equally high praise. Fearnot Wood is a compelling production which grabs its audience by the throat and doesn’t let go.