THE STICK MAKER TALES
Various venues, Tue 23 Apr-Sat 11 May
Originally performed in Llandrindod Wells as part of National Theatre Wales’ NHS70 festival, The Stick Maker Tales is now being revived for a short tour of Wales in April and May. The one-man show, starring Welsh actor Llion Williams, is the touching tale of a lonely, ageing shepherd who is beginning to lose his sight, and as a result, potentially his farm and livelihood. It was one of five monologue plays commissioned by NTW last year and one of the strongest of the bunch, thanks to a very strong central performance, a brilliant script from Peter Cox and some stellar staging from Kully Tharai.
The production won great and justified reviews last July for its affectionate take on Welsh hill-farming life and the challenges that agricultural communities face in today’s climate. As well as being an examination of those rural communities, the play is also an underdog story, an ode to the resilience of the human spirit in difficult times. It’s wonderfully-written, but like all one-man shows, it’s only as good as its actor. Williams inhabits the role of the farmer in a warm and nuanced performance that captures perfectly the humour and pathos of Cox’s script. One can’t help but feel that part of the reason this show has been re-commissioned is due to how resonant it seems given the current political climate and the tenuous state of the NHS. A line in the show that particularly strikes a chord in these austere times is “a good shepherd looks after the whole flock, not one or a few.” How apt.
Now that time has passed since the original production, and the director and actor are possibly even more familiar with the material, we can expect an even more studied and nuanced performance of The Stick Maker Tales, and there will be plenty of opportunities to see the show as it visits Aberystwyth (Fri 26 and Sat 27 Apr), Abergavenny (Tue 30), Milford Haven (Wed 1 and Thurs 2 May), Newtown (Fri 3), Swansea (Sat 4) and Brecon (Tue 7), as well as a host of venues in north Wales.
words Josh Rees
Tickets: £10-£13. Info: www.nationaltheatrewales.org