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Theater review: The corn is green

Emlyn Williams play from 1938 The corn is green – about a teacher who takes it upon herself to raise the children of a poor mining village in North Wales and helps one of the pupils get a scholarship to Oxford – is a defiantly old-fashioned play, Sarah Crompton said What’s on the stage. It hasn’t been shown in London since 1985, which makes this powerful, “perfect” production feel “more like a revival” than a revival at the National.

Director Dominic Cooke’s “inspired intervention” was to turn the semi-autobiographical work into a memory game, with Williams “himself” appearing on stage to read the instructions and character descriptions. With some of the mood removed by this simple expedient, the piece becomes a ‘sanctuary to the power of imagination itself’.

Cooke’s “non-naturalistic approach” has been brilliantly successful, agreed Dominic Cavendish The Daily Telegraph. The design is used cleverly: the stage starts off empty, but the sets become more realistic as Miss Moffat’s School becomes a reality. Cooke makes wonderful use of music, with a Welsh chorus of “coal-blackened, cloth-covered” miners.

And the acting is sensational. “I can’t see anything but A*s being bestowed” in reference to Nicola Walker’s “must-have” performance in the lead role. Iwan Davies as Evans, her top student, is also excellent, as is Rufus Wright as the “proudly bourgeois” local squire and Saffron Coomber as a disaffected local teenager.

Some viewers might feel that a mediocre play was flattered by top-notch production, Clive Davis said in The times. I can’t imagine the “clean wrapped ending” coming through, for example, “through a script conference.” Call the midwife“. But I enjoyed it.

This is definitely “reassuring viewing” rather than social critique, and it’s “riddled with sentimentality and tenderness,” Arifa Akbar said in The guard. Still, it’s “undeniably artistic, touching, and immensely entertaining.” Our hearts “rise and melt as the gifted Evans navigates his way toward a happy ending, and there are nice, hearty laughs along the way.”

national theatre, LondonSE1. Until June 11th

https://www.theweek.co.uk/arts-life/culture/theatre/956574/the-corn-is-green-review-nicola-walker-theatre-review Theater review: The corn is green

Fry Electronics Team

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