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Wolves Are Coming for You review at Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham – ‘enjoyable, if slightly overstuffed’

Stacey Evans and Helena Lymbery multirole at the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham Photo: Helen Maybanks

The Beast of Bodmin Moor and similar myths are a common part of small-town storytelling. Joel Horwood’s new play, Wolves Are Coming For You, takes this familiar folkloric tradition and uses it as a metaphor for a community’s fear of the unknown.

In director Sophie Motley’s world premiere staging, a co-production between rural theatre company Pentabus and Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, Helena Lymbery and Stacey Evans multirole as the array of villagers. While tapping into the recognisable ‘types’ populating the British countryside, the performances are nuanced enough to avoid caricature.

Horwood’s characters include the farmer’s urbanite daughter more interested in sourdough and avocado than sheep dips and arable; the ostracised and overweight teenager and the dreadlocked war vet in the ‘illegal and temporary dwelling’ of a caravan – the latter a more amiable variant of Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron in Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem.

Carla Goodman’s pared-back set design makes good use of minimal props, particularly torches turned into car headlamps and a pop-up crucifix for the local church. The lo-fi aesthetic and small cast size give an old-fashioned ‘legends around the campfire’ atmosphere to the piece.

Overall, the play feels a little bloated. The limited moments of audience interaction are unnecessary and the denouement slightly too saccharine. However, in its compassion for the outsider and patient attempt at understanding why countryside communities act as they do, Horwood’s work strikes a similar tone to Bea Roberts’ And Then Come The Nightjars. There’s no judgement towards people scared of what lurks in the darkness.

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Verdict
Enjoyable, if slightly overstuffed, new play by Joel Horwood about rural communities and their fears
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