Critical Chinwag Review - Light Waves Dark Skies

I was delighted to host the Critical Chinwag for We Made This' production of Light Waves Dark Skies, especially as it was originally supported by WalesLab. The piece has really developed under Matt Ball's direction but is very much a collaborative piece, made through devising.

The play is centred around the idea of light. Light in the extreme (such as the stars), light in the everyday (such a torch or lights in the home) and light in the minutiae (light from screens such as the iPad that I'm using to write this.) Told through the eyes of one family, who have lost a child it examines grief in a poignant and dramatic way.

Light Waves Dark Skies has a non-linear narrative which at first I found highly unsettling. I was unsure where we were in time as we jumped to different characters perspectives and settings at a quick pace. Even as a self professed hardened theatre nut I found this hard to follow but then once I became invested in the emotional narrative the piece settled down, appeared to find its feet and, as a consequence, so did I.

This has much to do with the skill of the cast - Morgan Thomas plays a father on the very edges of life (and reality). Again, he very much settled into the this role and became more subtle, nuanced and emotionally powerful throughout, with an excellent childlike quality, whilst Catherine Dyson played a lecturer struggling to find meaning her old life, softening the character throughout. This meant that both became extremely well rounded towards the end. Gwawr Loader played a journalist who was both inside and outside the family with a great sense of warmth but also 'otherness', added to by being the only Welsh speaking character in the play who develops a special bond with the boy who's voice we hear throughout.

Special mention must go to Paul Burgess who designed the set and created the wonderful animations which are a true highlight in the production. They wash over you and bring the boy - and therefore the acute loss - totally to life and into the present which adds enormous power to the production. The set itself is highly adaptable, at times looking almost like beach driftwood, at others a contemporary home environment where light comes from unexpected places.

One of the other main attractions of the play is that it expects the audience to do some work. We are by no means given all the answers through the production which made for some lively discussion afterwards at our Critical Chinwag. I do hope that the piece is given chance to have a further life - it's full of interesting thoughts, ideas and questions which I know will continue to fascinate and entertain audiences.

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Comment by Anna Lewis on December 8, 2016 at 3:01

Really interesting piece, I had a lot of the same thoughts as you!

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