The Wind of Heaven debuted in the West End three weeks before the end of World
War Two. Playwright Emlyn Williams evoked hope in these despairing times, not just
within the content of the play itself, but within an audience praying for the war to end and
their loved ones to return unscathed. Flash forward 75 years later and the
Finborough Theatre sparks its revival, with a mighty team of creatives by their side.
Perhaps not as relevant as it once was in 1945, The Wind of Heaven still provides a
controversial, yet compelling tale, as it questions religious morals, amongst an
underlying battle of power and class.
It’s 1856, the end of the Crimean War, and widow Dilys Parry (Rhiannon Neads) has
some unusual guests turn her rather mundane life upside down. Ambrose Ellis
(Jamie Wilkes) is new in town, the owner of a renowned circus in Birmingham, who
is hoping that Mrs Parry will help him find his latest exhibit. Unknown to them both,
they are about to discover something bigger than they could ever have imagined: a
prophecy, a miracle boy who will save the lives of many war heroes facing cholera.
Little do they know, he is right under their noses, and in a bid to make money, they
find love and compassion, bridging a gap between classes to help save the lives of
The acting of the cast is impeccable, it feels raw and honest, as the characters bond
and form new relationships on stage. There is initially a clear language barrier
between Welsh and English, but this soon disappears, as the characters become
more invested in each other, making the play rather lyrical towards the end. It’s
lovely to hear the Celtic language, which adds real authenticity to the play.
The set is simplistic, yet extravagant, with a large centrepiece window, nicely
highlighting the height and rurality of the household. It allows the audience to picture
the world outside the space, which adds to the lasting image, where the main living
space transforms into a beautifully lit model of the village. This ending image creates
a real sense of longing and community, which adds warmth to the melancholic
This truly is a wonderful revival of The Wind of Heaven, but I can’t help but struggle
to place its relevance in today’s society, especially when it held such great
significance in 1945. It also starts to drag towards the end and lasts perhaps a little
too long to keep a modern audience fully captivated. Despite this, it provides an
interesting storyline, and eight very strong cast members, who beautifully bring this
tale back to life.
Catch The Wind of Heaven at the Finborough Theatre until 21 st December. Tickets