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Voices from the Forest is a linked collection of short plays, paying tribute to the poets who worked around the village of Dymock in Gloucestershire in the years before the First World War. Some remain famous, such as Robert Frost and Rupert Brooke; others, like Lascelles Abercrombie, have sunk into obscurity. The show is the result of a collaboration between Dreamshed Theatre and MA student playwrights from the University of Gloucestershire.

After an opening sequence in which the stage is set up with a display about the poets, Bill Cronshaw appears as an academic about to deliver a lecture. In an amusing satire of academic language, he self-importantly rehearses sections of his speech about Frost – before his pomposity is pricked by the old man who prepared the room, referring disparagingly to the “talk” and how the words of the poets should speak for themselves. An offstage voice then reads the poem the academic has been analysing; John Martin Stevens reads well, and throughout the play his delivery focuses attention on the poems.

It’s a good opening that sets the scene for a series of linked short plays, where a single character enters the room to look at the display and discuss their relationship with one of the poets. Sarah Hancock successfully creates distinctive characters in her two pieces: one is about an Essex girl going to a rural university to follow in the footsteps of John Drinkwater, and the other sees a young PhD-student mother looking for something new about Rupert Brooke, who was always chasing something different. Murray Andrews, meanwhile, portrays a nervous young poet finding confidence to write in the work of Wilfrid Wilson Gibson.

Each piece is nicely constructed, but there is a sameness about the recurring theme of a writer/academic protagonist seeking a bond with the subject poet – and while “write what you know” is often given as good advice, writers and academics writing about writers and academics is hardly original. However, one scene stands out: it features Andrews as the old man identifying his own sense of loss with the loss of Lascelles Abercrombie, whose poetry has faded from the canon as it dropped out of fashion. This is a moving piece, and dovetails perfectly with the Abercrombie poem read aloud, which looks at the birth of Christ from an unusual but very touching perspective.

The URC Blue Room is a perfect space for this gentle, thoughtful piece – and while there is nothing earth-shattering in Voices from the Forest it is a promising experiment from new playwrights. It’s also an interesting tribute to the Dymock Poets, and for me, a prompt to find some poems by Lascelles Abercrombie.