This one almost sneaked under the radar.
After the success of 35 Awr (read our reviews here), S4C brings us Enid a Lucy – a four-part series that looked, on paper, like it might be a Welsh equivalent of Thelma and Louise. While it didn’t exactly pan out that way – although it might do in future episodes – there were some intriguing elements to it.
First, we meet Lucy (Mabli Jên Eustace), a young mum who’s partnered with dimwit Defner (Stefan Cenydd) – a shambling, impressionable young man who works with his uncle as a plasterer and comes home drunk and/or stoned on most days. These two are always arguing and effing and jeffing all over the place and generally seem like a dysfunctional couple who may combust at any time. With a young baby in tow, it’s not a good look.
Living next door to them is Enid (Eiry Thomas), a quiet, widowed piano teacher who is chronically lonely and bored with her life – she runs the local WI (or what looks like the WI) and feigns interest when other members give talks on how to arrange flowers and display them on pieces of wood. Her son, Rhodri (Sion Ifan) and his wife Gwenllian (Heledd Gwynn) are also in a fragile relationship – they have sex, but she’s anxious and he’s not engaged. Her sister can’t stop having babies, but the inference is that she cannot. She’s frantic. He’s miles away. So much so that he neglects his mother who, on her birthday, sits alone when Rhodri cancels dinner. She’s roasted a joint of meat, too.
Speaking of joints, Defner is in a tight spot at work. His uncle Sid is a snarling, unforgiving sort who tells him that he should lay down the law at home and show Lucy who’s boss. He also hates his workmate, a taciturn Pole called Majewski, and decides to play some pranks: he puts dog poo in Majewski’s plaster mixture and then steals his prized holdall from the van. When he takes it home and opens it, he finds that the bag is stuffed full of £20k’s worth of weed and spice. Kerching! He skins up gleefully.
Before that, Defner metes out physical violence to Lucy.
It was hard to watch, and perplexing, too. Most of this was played for laughs (although I have to say, it wasn’t that funny at all), with Defner, Sid and Majewski a boorish, cartoonish trio lurching from one overplayed line to the next. And then we had domestic violence, something shocking to watch and horrid in its roots and inception. The balance was just… wrong. Utterly wrong.
I would’ve liked a more serious study of domestic violence here, and time to explore why this was happening. All we saw was Defner and Lucy shouting at each other, dog poo, some weed… it all felt a bit Inbetweeners in places.
When Lucy and Enid took off together – initially to go to her mother’s in Swansea – it kind of made sense, but she made a mistake: she took the holdall full of drugs with her, which made Defner, Sid and by this stage, a snarling Majewski take to the road after them. One of them farted in their van en route.
What was interesting – and something that will hopefully develop – was Enid’s character, and Rhodri and Gwenllian’s relationship (Gwenllian is particularly well played by Gwynn). For Enid, although she doesn’t know it yet, could be the adventure she was crying out for. For Lucy, it was a sweet escape.
We’ve had some fantastic Welsh crime dramas over the last five years or so, and while I admire S4C’s commitment to a varied slate of Sunday-night dramas and indeed its commitment to Welsh-language dramas, this one feels like a bit of a miss. Tonally it’s all over the place, and, aside from Enid, these characters are really not very likeable.
Let’s see where it goes.
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