‘“For years afterwards the farmers found them – the wasted young, turning up under their plough blades.” So run the blunt, grimly beautiful opening lines of the Welsh poet Owen Sheers’s elegy for the men, 4,000 of them from the 38th (Welsh) Division, who were killed or wounded in the Battle of Mametz Wood in July 1916… Sheers revisits that chapter of carnage in a stirring, sprawling promenade show… He draws on the writings of two survivors in particular. One is the poet David Jones whose fractured, enervated, modernist response to his war-time experiences, In Parenthesis, was hailed as a “work of genius” by TS Eliot. The other key influence is the writer Llewelyn Wyn Griffith… driven to wondering how the sun “could shine on this mad cruelty and on the quiet peace of an upland tarn near Snowdon”... We end up in dark woods and a place of numb desolation, bombarded by words that pierce the heart and vignettes that capture the stomach-churning sacrifice… The finest commemoration of the First World War centenary I’ve seen to-date, this deserves a much longer life.’ Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph
Mametz by Owen Sheers was premiered by National Theatre Wales in June 2014. It is one of the set plays on WJEC’s A level Drama specification. This dual edition combines the original English-language play with a Welsh-language translation by Ceri Wyn Jones, one of Wales’s most eminent poets.