New theatre company We Made This has been set up by Matt Ball and Jacqui George. They describe themselves as a collaborative company that is driven by the initial idea and cemented by the artists they use to make their shows.
This show, Light Waves, Dark Skies, has been in development over the past two years and was inspired by a Gabriel Garcia Marquez short story that director, Matt Ball read some 20 years ago. He has gone on to develop ideas through research and development with young people and Mess Up The Mess Theatre Company.
What the company have produced here is a moving and painful exploration of grief, loss and moving on.
Two parents have packed up and left their beloved seaside home after the water snatched their son from them. The have run away from the waves that stir their memories. Both parents are trying to cope with the grief in their own ways. Ruth (Catherine Dyson) is a campaigner against light pollution and teaching about the stars whilst Gareth (Morgan Thomas) cannot escape the house or his vivid memories of his son.
Their son is ever-present in their lives even though he is missing. There are some beautiful animated black and white sketches of him sitting at the top of the stairs listening to their conversations or at a desk watching his mother’s lectures. The air of sadness they purvey is palpable. The set is simply designed by Paul Burgess. The remains of an old boat, a tent and a kitchen table that has a pool of lit water that illustrates the phrase “light is like water”. The back wall is the surface for the projections also drawn by the designer.
The parent’s fragile existence is interrupted by Julia (Gwawr Loader) who knew their son but who wrote an exposing article that Ruth feels betrayed her. It is this character that makes them really confront the reality of their situation and that supporting each other in their grief is the only way forward. They go back to the beach that they love so much. They can’t really escape from their loss and seeing the stars gives them comfort and brings them closer to their son. It is the waves that will give them solace.
The whole production has an air of sorrow and is heavy with anguish. The characters are facing something that is unimaginable to most people. You can really feel their pain.
However, the show only has one gear and I would have liked a little more light and shade. Having said that, We Made This have created a piece of theatre that is relevant and will touch everyone that sees it. All the performers give heartfelt performances of people who have been torn apart by grief and loss.
It is heartening that, in the end, the sea and the stars are the very things that can put them back together.
Chapter Arts Centre until December 3.