City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Dark Philosophers Review

By Alex Eades - Posted on 18 August 2011

Fringe 2011: The Dark Philosophers
Show details
Traverse Theatre
National Theatre Of Wales & Told By An Idiot
Running time: 
Paul Hunter (Director), Carl Grose (Writer), Angela Davies (Designer), Ceri James (Lighting Designer), Laura Coates (Sound Designer), Iain Johnstone (Music)
David Charles, Nia Davies, Nia Gwynne, Ryan Hacker, Daniel Hawksford, Bettrys Jones, Matthew Owen, Glyn Pritchard

It is an extraordinarily shameful admittance, particularly as a Welshman, but until last night I had no knowledge of even the existence of the National Theatre Of Wales. I guess I must have assumed that there would be a body vaguely similar to our own National Theatre Of Scotland, harbouring the very best of Welsh talent and examining the country’s cultural and political past, present and future through performance, dance and, of course, song.

But the National Theatre of Wales?

Whilst awaiting the lights to dim in Traverse one and upon further study of The Dark Philosophers program, my heart lightened. The National Theatre of Wales was a young dragon, only being launched in November, 2009. No wonder I had never heard of it.

But don’t be fooled by its puppy eyes and innocent vulnerability. This beast has taken flight and, with sparks and scouldering smoke, it is here to incinerate everything in its way.

The Dark Philosophers, inspired by the blackly comic tales of Welsh storyteller, Gwyn Thomas (1913 – 1981), is a comic and tragic examination of a small community in Wales struggling with its own humanity. Where booze and coal are the only source of light. Where death and love are the only partners in the night.

This is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best thing I have seen in the Fringe this year. No, the best thing I have seen this year.

Ferocious, hilarious, terrifying, beautiful, violent.....there are not enough words available to me to paint such a magnificent picture as The Dark Philosophers. Like the Mona Lisa, you just have to see it for yourself.

The entire audience sat in complete awe at the mountain of wooden furniture that is the set. And as the creatures crawl from inside wardrobes and under tables, the magic began to flutter as our hearts did to the unmistakable Welsh boom of the remarkable cast.

It truly is endlessly inventive. Just when you think they must have pulled out their last trick, a giant evil puppet appears out of the decaying mountain, like a nightmarish beast from Narnia, leading up to an utterly devastating finale.

If you love theatre, if you love stories, you simply have to see this.

If The Dark Philosophers is anything to go by, The National Theatre of Wales is going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Show times: Til 28 August

Tickets: £6 - £19

I certainly hope it returns as I'd love to see it but no time this Fringe!

When the schedule for reviewing Fringe shows was being put together this was the play that most people requested to see. Glad it lived up to expectations and that you had a chance to see your National Theatre on stage.