Carmen Medway-Stephens work brings a tear to the eye with believable characters in a heart-warming story line with traditional Welsh music. The story is set in the quaint, picturesque little village of Lovenny, where we see Nettie (Sarah-Jayne Hopkins) returning to her childhood home to complete her late mothers last wish that she bake bread once more. Nettie struggles to complete her task, but with help from the whole community the perfect loaf of bread is made.
Carmen Medway-Stephens sweet sounding script is almost poetic, very fitting for a group of Welsh women who have poetry in their blood. Her script is also very symbolic, it is obvious from the word go that the bread has a deeper meaning: a symbol for community and togetherness, all the ingredients, or people, must work together, not too much and not too little to make it work.
Alongside Sarah-Jayne Hopkins on stage was an extremely talented group of women all of whom are completely believable. During the course of the play we meet Mair an extraordinary female vicar played by Olwen Rees, her quirky personality never failed to put a smile on the audience’s face. We also meet Maggie a widowed farmer’s wife who has lost her touch with her woman hood, Louise Collins portrays her emotional side sensitively and has a lot of credibility. Annabel is a high maintenance estate agent from out of town. Michelle McTernan portrayed this character a little stereotypically and could have made some of her traits subtler, for example her ‘posh’ accent.
My favourite character was Lara a struggling teen mam played by Saran Morgan. As a young adult myself I felt I sympathised with this character as I know many people in similar situations. Carmen Medway-Stephens could have easily written Lara as a stereotypical teen mam but veers away from this, Lara clearly adores her daughter and even spent some of her time helping Netties mam make bread and keeping her company in her old age. Although some stereotypical aspects remain, such as her costume which consisted of a pink tracksuit and her tendency to enjoy a few too many jagerbombs, these aspects of her personality were represented in the text and did not need to be emphasised.
The naturalistic set was very eye catching and the homely set and for the audience members would have triggered memories from their childhood , whether it be the cast iron oven, the statue of mother Mary or in my case something as simple as a metal bread bin.
The story was clear to understand but complex enough to make the audience ask questions. It’s good to see Welsh theatre focusing on the present and leaving the past behind and Welsh playwrights can push the boundaries even further.
Chapter, Cardiff. Touring