15 Jun 2013

Alfred Russel Wallace was the first Indiana Jones

Bruce Langridge

He is famous funnyman Bill Bailey’s favourite scientist and he is credited with inspiring in the young David Attenborough his love of nature but Alfred Russel Wallace is largely unknown.

Doing their level best to shed light on the life and works of one of the 19th century’s most remarkable intellectuals, are Neath-based theatre company Theatr na nÓg, who are bringing their one-man play You Should Ask Wallace to the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

The 50-minute play, which tells the story of Wallace, will be at the Garden on Saturday and Sunday June 29-30, with three shows each day.

[nggallery id=375]Born in Usk, Wallace spent his time surveying the area around Neath, where his love of nature was first ignited. He then travelled the globe collecting and recording new species in his quest to discover the origin of species. While in the Malay Archipelago, his prolific collecting led him to the theory of natural selection. He then wrote to Darwin detailing his theory, which ultimately compelled Darwin to present his findings, and propel him to publish The Origin of Species.

Darwin is the one we all remember but Wallace is the one we should not forget.

Taking the part of Wallace is actor Ioan Hefin, who appeared in the very first performance of the play – at the National Botanic Garden in July 2008. Ioan says: “Every time I have the opportunity of working on the script or to read about his history, I discover something new and unique. Wallace was without question second to none.”

The performances are at 12noon, 1.30pm and 3pm.

The Garden is open daily from 10am to 6pm. For more information about the National Botanic Garden of Wales, email info@gardenofwales.org.uk or call 01558 667149.