Review: Walden

Posted on 29 May 2021

The new RE:EMERGE season from Sonia Friedman Productions opened recently at the West End’s Harold Pinter Theatre with the debut play from Amy Berryman. The new play is directed by Ian Rickson and is running for just a few weeks before J’Ouvert opens on 16 June 2021. Tickets for Walden are still available and after seeing the production, can assure you that you won’t want to miss out!

Walden is a new play from Berryman who has seen success with her work at various play showcases before it came to the West End stage. Praise to this season for finding and showcasing this play, for pairing it with a brilliant director, Ian Rickson, and for casting an incredible cast. Seeing Walden feels like finding water in the middle of a desert. Theatres have for the most part been closed for over a year and now we can return to the likes of this intense yet freeing drama that sweeps you up in all its emotions and turns.

When taking your seat in London’s Harold Pinter Theatre, the rows newly placed in to aid social distancing, the setting absorbs you instantly. The stage is in semi-darkness and the set design is rustic, which is the sole setting for the play. The only sound design is the gentle sounds of nature, leaving a rather blank canvas for the cast to make their mark.

You’re introduced to the three characters, thrown straight into a scene with Stella and Brian before Cassie arrives, leaving you to grasp the situation. You’re not left in suspense as the story and relationships slowly unfold, like a flower blooming, revealing more and more, until we get to the centre of it all.

Set in the future, they seem a world far apart but with relationships so tangible at the core, it felt as relatable and authentic as anything with a contemporary setting; the true test of good storytelling and strong acting. Yes, the main topics of conversation are about space and a world we don’t understand but as an audience member, you feel far from alienated.

Gemma Arterton, Fehinti Balogun and Lydia Wilson each have a power within them that draws your attention and when they come together, all your focus is theirs. They present the story with such raw emotion, that you can’t help but feel attached to their characters. You get so invested and tangled up in the feelings flowing from the stage, allowing you to get lost in the magic of a live performance.

Don’t miss out on this gripping, new play. Book your tickets to Walden in the West End for truly remarkable storytelling.

By Jade Ali

A love for theatre stemmed from my love of literature and music, but the West End on my doorstep opened up a whole new appreciation and passion for all things stage-y