• Amy Toledano

On Bear Ridge presented by National Theatre Wales and The Royal Court Theatre

Image courtesy of Mark Douet

Beth? (What is it?)

On Bear Ridge is a one act play written by Ed Thomas from National Theatre Wales and The Royal Court theatre. The play has four characters (played by Rakie Ayola, Sion Daniel Young, Rhys Ifans and Jason Hughes), and is directed by Vicky Featherstone and Ed Thomas.

Beth yw'r ddrama? (What is the play about?)

In a post-apocalyptic vaguely South Walian (perhaps fictional) area, there is a mountain (Bear Ridge) that a couple have managed to survive on, despite the world around them falling apart. The arrival of a military soldier shakes them and they are forced to negotiate not only their lives but also the revelations of their pasts and the pain that ‘the end of the world’ (diwedd o byd) at least as they know it, has brought them. Without revealing any spoilers, this really is a piece that I would recommend seeing for yourself. As vague and ambiguous as some of its writing is (deliberately so), it is also very painful and harrowing to watch as it develops. A real sense of ‘Cymraegness’ if you will and Welsh heart with llawer of eira wrth grws (lots of snow of course), poetry and paned (cups of tea) that can heal any heart ache.

Sut oedd yn gwneud i mi deimlo'n? (How did it make me feel?)

Meddyliais lawer. Llawer. Hireath. Drist. Yn fy nghalon. Ac trwm. (A sadness in my heart- it made me feel a lot and a sense of home and longing for Wales. It made me feel heavy.) For such a huge, dystopian story with such themes siting heavily throughout, Thomas’ writing and world building creates such a universally relatable microcosm- a tired and battered Welsh teulu (family) that resounds in all of us. We as humans all experience similar events to whatever degree, and although at times this play feels far away and semi inconceivable for us as audience members, there are times too when we realise we may not be as different to these characters as we would perhaps like to think.

This play rings true of the message that at the end of the day (wherever that may be to you), if the world was inevitably ending, where would most of us return to? Catref? (Home?) Probably. Back to our Bear Ridge.

Ble? (Where?)

On Bear Ridge plays at the Jerwood Theatre downstairs at ‘The Royal Court’ (after a run at the Sherman in Caerdydd/Cardiff) last month from 24th October – 23rd November 2019. The space is great for it, you wouldn’t want it any smaller, as it would lose the intimacy and urgency if the capacity was too big. Perfect too for the similar set up in the main space over in the Sherman in Cardiff.

Mwy? (Anything else?)

Rakie Ayola as Noni is a wonder, I loved her instantly. She is the epitome of a Welsh woman, resilient and strong and broken, vulnerable and lyrical. Her tenderness matches John Daniels (Rhys Ifans) manic nature so perfectly, making the two not only a very believable partnership but also an extremely likeable one, that we root for even in the darkest of times. There are moments of such powerful stillness and fragility contrasted alongside some real epic twists and turns which is key to showing a struggle like the ones that Noni and John Daniels have been facing daily on Bear Ridge itself.

Sophie x

On Bear Ridge is playing at The Royal Court Theatre until the 23rd November 2019.

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