Lightspeed from Pembroke Dock is the first produced show by Dirty Protest aimed at children eight and upwards. It was written by Mark Williams who was inspired to write the play after finding out about The Millennium Falcon from Star Wars being made in the town where he grew up, Pembroke Dock, in 1979.
Being a huge Star Wars fan, Mark was curious to write about what that would mean to a young boy like Sam in the play and how that discovery might shape his life into adulthood.
We are invited into two worlds – the world of 14-year-old Sam and the world of adult Sam. Young Sam bursts on to the stage full of exuberance re-enacting some classic Star Wars battle scenes and of course the iconic opening crawl of ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…’ We see inside the young super fan’s world and are reminded how exciting and all-consuming childhood favourite things can be. Experiments with techno music recreating the sounds of Star Wars were introduced, as well as household items cleverly adapted to resemble light sabers. Sam has a particularly strained relationship with his stepdad; both dealing with the bereavement of Sam’s Mum.
We meet adult Sam in a frantic state after being called to the school to deal with his daughter Lizzie’s rebellious actions. Sam is determined to keep Lizzie’s rebellious streak under control whilst Lizzie shows similarities to her dad’s younger self, in her determination and opinionated attitude. After the school showdown and Lizzie goes missing, Sam embarks on a mission to bring her back home.
Both time periods run alongside one another well and there are tender moments when adult Sam is able to reflect on his younger days whilst younger Sam scenes are playing out. I felt really connected to both timelines and could understand adult Sam’s worries about the potential danger Lizzie was embarking on later on in the story. I sympathised with Sam’s wanting to do the right thing by his daughter as he recounts a time where he had to put those childhood dreams to one side.
Adult Sam was played by Keiron Self who captioned the anxiety and worries of a man forever trying to make up for one mistake. Self and Sian Davies who played Lizzie created an on-screen chemistry which was as natural as you’d imagine between family members.
Likewise young Sam played by Jack Hammett and Dick Bradnum created tender and also fraught moments of two grieving people trying to mend in different ways. Hammett was also able to capture the vulnerability and childlike ambition to see the Millennium Falcon which was easy to resonate with no matter what your age.
As the time periods reached their crucial climax we saw the vulnerabilities and fears of all characters come to the fore and it was hard not to well up at characters who showed the human complexities we have in all of us.
This play captures the beauty of childhood dreams and ambitions and how we lose that sense of play and believe that all things can be possible when we reach adulthood. It’s a reminder that our inner child should always be present in everything we seek to do, sometimes that youthful exuberance we all once had is something we should try to keep a hold of. Our childhood is a part of us that influences the person we grow up to be and the things that brought us joy when we were young we should keep in our hearts and in our minds regardless of age, time and life’s complications.
Reviewed at Chapter, Cardiff.
New Voices review:
Lightspeed from Pembroke dock continues its Welsh tour until May 5:
4-7 Chapter, Cardiff/Caerdydd 029 2030 4400 chapter.org
17 Soar Centre/Canolfan Soar, Penygraig 01443 30 30 32 valleyskids.org
18 Ffwrnes, Llanelli 0845 226 3510 theatrausirgar.co.uk
19 Taliesin Arts Centre/ Canolfan Y Celfyddydau Taliesin, Swansea/Abertawe 01792 60 20 60 taliesinartscentre.co.uk
21 The Riverfront/Glan Yr Afon, Newport/Casnewydd 01633 656757
23 Halliwell Theatre/Theatre Halliwell, Carmarthen/Caerfyrddin
24 Pontardawe Arts Centre/Canolfan Y Celfyddydau Pontardawe
01639 863 722 pontardaweartscentre.co.uk
25 Borough Theatre/Theatr Borough, Y Fenni/Abergavenny
01873 85 805 boroughtheatreabergavenny.co.uk
26 Blackwood Miners’ Institute/Sefydliad Y Glowyr Coed Duon
01495 227 206 blackwoodminersinstitute.com
27 Galeri, Caernarfon 01286 685 222 galericaernarfon.com
28 Aberystwyth Arts Centre/Canolfan Y Celfyddydau Aberystwyth 01970 62 32 32 aberystwythartscentre.co.uk
2 Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon/Aberhonddu 01874 611 622 brycheiniog.co.uk
4-5 Torch Theatre/Theatr Torch, Milford Haven/Aberdaugleddau 01646 695 267 torchtheatre.co.uk