Thursday, 7 November 2019

REVIEW: A Prayer for Wings at the King’s Head Theatre

Inside the small theatre within the King’s Head pub, we enter the house (within a disused church) of Rita (Alis Wyn Davies) and her Mam, Mrs. Kelly (Llinos Daniel). Written and directed by Sean Mathias in 1985, we see 20 year-old Welsh girl Rita care for her mother, who is quickly deteriorating from multiple sclerosis. After years of caring, Rita feels trapped in this life, resents her mother and craves a world where she meets a man to sweep her off her feet and take her far away to America. The play is repetitive to emphasise the same day-to-day of: waking up, Mrs. Kelly calling out for help, making tea and toast, taking her to the ‘lav’ then going out to let the ‘dirty boys’ (Luke Rhodri) touch her for money while her mother naps. 

The acting is good and the story is meaningful, however I just did not find the style of text pleasing. Mostly through monologue, Rita and her Mam speak to the audience about their thoughts and the pain this illness has caused them both. I found the moments when the characters shared conversation flowed more and was less monotonous. It was difficult to engage fully with the show due to the repetition- which did emphasise the frustrations of Rita’s dull life- but was not the most captivating way to put this narrative onstage, in my opinion. The story morbid and harrowing; watching Rita become more selfish as her loving mother is weakening before her eyes, but I did not feel the humour was well executed enough to lighten the tone of the play. 

Lee Newby’s design immerses you in the claustrophobic house; two beds, a kitchen and a table. The only outsider we meet is when various boys are brought in for sexual exchanges. Robbie Butler’s lighting design also excellently
created the spooky ambience of the old church.

A Prayer for Wings is an important play but could have been adapted for enjoyment purposes. Mathias has made a great effort to portray these two outcasts in society as they live in poverty with limited options; he provokes emotion and highlights the seriousness of the realistic situation, but I did not find it enjoyable to watch. 

Review by Hannah Storey

Rating: ★★

Seat: C11 | Price of Ticket: £28.50
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