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Kill Thy Neighbour Review- Liam Dearden

Kill Thy Neighbour is a rustic yet riveting play set in the fictional coastal Pembrokeshire village of Porth Y Graith and is a masterful exploration of love, marriage, and the haunting feeling of entrapment. This compelling and very gripping social satire delivers plenty of home truths that go deep into the depths of this tranquil Welsh village, exposing a series of captivating revelations and mysteries. Audiences are sure to be treated to a thought-provoking exploration of human nature in this exceptional new drama that drew me to the absolute edge of my seat. 

Attendees of Kill Thy Neighbour at The Torch Theatre this week will be pleasantly surprised to discover that this marks writer Lucie Lovatt's debut full-length play. Lovatt draws inspiration from a thought-provoking article about Cwm-Yr-Eglwys and its sparse population of permanent residents, which stated that only two out of the fifty properties there currently had a permanent residency. Her writing explores the timely issue of the second-home crisis that resonates with various communities worldwide. Lovatt skillfully intertwines the ordinary with the unexpected, incorporating elements of the eerie supernatural in a narrative that delves into the concept of belonging and the impact of personal connections on the community. With a commanding presence, Lovatt's writing demands undivided attention, which she ultimately delivered in a captivating evening that strikes a delicate balance between a comedic and poignant drama.

Upon entering the auditorium with my companions, including fellow Torch reviewer Val Ruloff, we were immediately captivated by the immersive experience created through the atmospheric lighting and framing by Lucía Sánchez Roldán, and the sound designed and composed by Tic Ashfield transported us into the story as if peering into a familiar family home. The detailed set before us, complete with dishes in the sink, coats hanging by the door, worn furniture, and personal touches like a corkboard and favourite snacks, evoked a sense of lived-in authenticity. Elin Steele's set design effectively conveyed the feeling of entrapment experienced by the character in Caryl's narrative, making for a compelling and resonant viewing experience. But also making it feel that this house has seen generations of the same family that lived and still lives under its roof. 

In this gripping and thrilling play, Caryl (Victoria John) and her husband Meirion (Dafydd Emyr) are the remaining permanent residents in the coastal village of Porth Y Graith, located in Pembrokeshire. Struggling within their marriage and feeling worn down by life, they find themselves facing isolation as their familiar surroundings are taken over by the trend of second-home ownership. Outsiders and urbanites, such as Max (Gus Gordon), are purchasing properties in the area for a sense of peace by the seaside, much to Caryl's annoyance as she attempts to convince her resistant husband to relocate.

Upon receiving advice from local real estate agent Gareth (Jamie Redford) about the Senedd’s pending legislation impacting the sale of second homes, the pressure mounts for Caryl to make a decision. Now Caryl wants to escape, but Meirion definitely wants to stay. Is it loyalty? Belonging? Or a dark secret that will keep them here forever?

The story follows Caryl and Meirion as they contemplate whether to stay in a village that is suffering from the consequences. Relationships, individual identity, and societal changes are subtly woven throughout the narrative, eliciting a wide spectrum of feelings in the eyes of the audience. With a deft move, Lovatt shifts to a closer examination of the tense relationship between Caryl and Meirion, emphasising the obvious animosity simmering under the surface. The arrival of their daughter Seren portrayed by Catrin Stewart, further muddies the family dynamic.

The talented ensemble of Kill Thy Neighbour delivers remarkable performances, with Victoria John expertly portraying the struggles of a woman searching for her identity and Dafydd Emyr impressing with a compelling character arc. Gus Gordon adds a comedic touch as the new neighbour, injecting humour with his urban mannerisms and expressive use of emojis. The acting in the production is exceptional, with each member of the cast bringing depth and authenticity to their roles, creating real stakes and palpable tension. The chemistry between the actors is dynamic, engaging the audience in the characters' turbulent lives through their performances. As mentioned, John shines as Caryl, showcasing her versatility in navigating the character's emotional journey. Dafydd Emyr's portrayal of Meirion is a study in elusiveness, with a gradual transformation that culminates in a powerful display of vulnerability and fear. Catrin Stewart delivers a heartwarming performance as Seren, skillfully navigating unexpected plot twists. Jamie Redford stands out in his role as the estate agent, bringing energy and memorable moments of conflict with Caryl. His portrayal adds vibrant colour to the production and enhances its overall impact.

Under the Torch Theatre's very own Artistic Director Chelsey Gillard's direction, "Kill Thy Neighbour" unfolds as a riveting and well-paced satirical drama that keeps the audience engaged from start to finish. The interplay of characters, setting, and story culminates in a captivating production that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. It’s a triumph of Welsh theatre that puts Pembrokeshire front and centre.

Overall, "Kill Thy Neighbour" is a must-see piece of theatre that will leave you on the edge of your seat. This riveting and atmospheric production is sure to linger in your thoughts long after the curtain falls. 



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