Endlessly tall trees and a forest floor of wood chips encircle a small shack where Sharp looks after a boy (Finn Bennett) she found in the woods. Wary of the Wolf (Tom Motherdale) that lurks outside, she sees flashes of another world – a sleek white kitchen with a birthday balloon and a baby monitor – appear above them.
Evans uses fable tropes effectively if not exhaustively to depict the Woman’s intense and destabilizing state and the tragic consequences it brings about. Somewhat bewilderingly, Sharp switches between a Southern drawl and a British lilt to portray the two realms she occupies; it’s unclear why the wild woods is locatable as the American South and contrasted with a scene of British domesticity.
Still, Sharp is captivating, hunched over yet attentive to all around her. She carries with her so much weight that it is sometimes overwhelming, yet she expertly and sensitively makes vivid the Woman’s psyche. Both Motherdale as the cunning and creepy Wolf and Bennett are strong support, but the Boy as a character is thinly drawn in comparison.
There’s a lot to unpack in Evans’s The Woods and much of it is compelling. Director Lucy Morrison goes some way to establish an unsettling rhythm to this mesmerizing world. Perhaps it does rely a little too heavily on fairy tale devices, but The Woods is still a vivid portrayal of an often misunderstood mental health illness.
|What||Review: The Woods, Royal Court Theatre|
|Where||Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London, SW1W 8AS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Sloane Square (underground)|
05 Sep 18 – 20 Oct 18, Monday - Saturday 19:45, Thursday & Saturday matinees 15:00 (from 13 September)
|Price||£12 - £25|
|Website||Click here for more information|