Tony Jones, Playwright & Writer’s Guild Award Winner for Best Radio Play, 2016 for Radio 4’s ‘Quill’, came to see Dreaming the Night Field, read on for his review of the show…
I’ve been a fan of Adverse Camber since I came across their work a few years ago. As a producing company, they’ve determinedly found a way of operating creatively in hard times, by bringing together winning combinations of artists and nurturing special projects.
‘Dreaming The Night Field’ draws you into the heart of The Mabinogion. As the show’s prologue makes clear, you will be transported somewhere else – into a metamorphosising world of passion, upheaval and mischief-making, where a king can hear everything, a living woman is made out of flowers, a hero sets sail in a seaweed boat, and a magician pulls dogs and stallions from the woodland floor. It’s ancient and weird and compellingly beautiful and, while you’re there, oddly believable.
You’re guided through this world by a master storyteller. It’s he who makes the direct connection, who gets your trust and earns it, who pumps the lifeblood round, but his storytelling is very much enriched by two elements. Firstly, by sticks. That sounds improbable, but, throughout the performance, the balancing and dismantling of cunning arrangements of crooked sticks creates a shifting landscape that mysteriously complements the many metamorphoses in the story. And, secondly, the storytelling is enlarged by wonderful music and singing. Most of the songs are in Welsh, and rise up naturally from the story, marking moments and capturing feelings that lift the story to another level of emotional power.
Coming out into the modern world, you might ask, what’s the contemporary relevance of this show? There’s a whole set of straight rational answers that could be given, but it’s a dull question to ask in the face of the show’s evident mesmeric power. I looked up their next gig and went back for more.