Fearnot Wood

Thu 31st July – Sun 17th August 2014


Lucy Diver

at 09:37 on 14th Aug 2014



The woods, as we are told again and again, are dark. They're dark, and this Bonfire Night will hopefully shed some light on some secrets buried deep in the woods. It's clear from the outset that this is a play about unveiling secrets - that most players in this game are hiding something to be revealed over the one hour twenty minutes traffic of the stage.

That's just the problem - it takes an awfully long time to get down to the nitty gritty. Several of the opening scenes could be considerably shortened. In fact, cutting Fearnot Wood down to a standard Fringe hour would tighten up the script and do the play enormous good, I imagine.

It also felt like the actors, as well as the story, took a while to warm up. I initially dismissed both Josie Charles' and Daniel Rodgers' characters and performances, but was happily proved wrong when they grew depth and subtlety. Eddie-Joe Robinson is soulful and distant while other lead Eoin Bentick is panicky and nostalgic. All of the cast could work on audibility - sometimes they spoke too fast for me to understand them.

The play was also unfortunately disturbed by footsteps and noises from the room above. The lighting and sound were good, and helped a great deal to create the party-parade atmosphere.

Despite this, it's enthralling. There are plenty of moments where you think you've figured out what's going on, and are aching to see your conclusions justified. The awkwardness of meeting old friends is extremely well-evoked.

A lot of the dark atmosphere relies on embedded storytelling or secret-telling. All of the actors carry this out to perfection. Not only does the audience forget they're in a theatre, watching old friends catch up, but that old friends are catching up at all - our minds are in the thick of the action. It's a play drenched in nostalgia and sadness, and its moments of action are always long ago or still to come. We've caught these characters in the lull between storms.

On the whole, despite the need of some minor tweaks, including clarifying the ending a little, Fearnot Wood is a compelling show. A mature and original script, great acting and well-produced. It's well worth seeing.


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