Theatre in Wales

The latest theatre, dance and performance news

The WACAS awards     

The Burton and Taylor On-screen Romance Award
George Clooney and Catherine Zeta Jones in Intolerable Cruelty. Now please don't accuse me of picking a token CZJ just because it's the law to have her in newspaper pages even if she cuts her fringe - and I'm not being ironic there. But there was real chemistry between the pair. They really looked like they were enjoying themselves in the movie. And ok, it doesn't hurt that she's Wales' most famous export since Sir Anthony Hopkins took up US citizenship.

Best Plays in Wales Award
Indian Country, written by Meic Povey for Sgript Cymru, was the most interesting new play but let down by the direction. Charles Way's adaptation for The Borrowers for the Sherman was the best adaptation, intelligent and accessible, and a very good production. Full Circle was the most moving show, a production for and about people with learning disabilities written by Glenys Evans for Hijinx. Peeling from Graeae, while not Welsh, was a stunning show from a Welsh-based writer Kaite O'Reilly.

The Were They Really Plays Award
You couldn't call them plays but memorably different were Acqua Impura from U-Man Zoo which involved the audience sitting as dinner guests round a large water-filled table and choosing storylines from a three-course menu. Forget It by Sioned Huws had the audience wandering round a large TV screen to watch a remote performance that was also webcast. So you never were really sure if anything was quite what it seemed. And nobody could forget I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down, Earthfall's distinctive mix of dance, performance and live music that had a theatre version and a site-specific extravaganza.

The Concert Highlight Award
Fans got two greats for the price of one when Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood joined the Stereophonics on stage at London's Earl Court earlier this month. He stepped out with Kelly Jones and co. to play Handbags and Gladrags, Step On My Old Size Nines and a cover of The Beatles' Don't Let Me Down, not an anthem the band's former drummer Stuart Cable will be singing now.

Actor Who Should Have Stayed in Bed Award
This one has got to go to Ben Affleck in Gigli. Easily the worst performance of the year, this portrayal of a charmless, bigoted lunk-head almost works - until you realise he's meant to be utterly delightful. A no-go for J-Lo's paramour.

Most Annoying Actress Award
Stand up and be counted Renee Zellweger for your performance in Cold Mountain. Someone told her to make her Deep South backwoods drifter as wacky and obnoxious as possible - and it worked. It's all "look at me, look at me, I'm such a crazy redneck!" She might have been nominated for a Golden Globe for her role, but we'd rather see her eating Bridget Jones' pies. She accepts less annoying roles when she's chubbier.

Most Authentic Storyline Award
Most Hijinx shows have a truth and an honesty that is quite heart-stopping and Full Circle was one story. Shame about the company's Buffalo Bill though, which was one of the turkeys of the year. And we simply must give a nod in the direction of Face the Wall, Charged Theatre's debut, a sharp, affecting and chilling adult drama about child murder.

The Diva Award
Need you ask? It's Jennifer Lopez for having the nerve to bore us all senseless about the plans for her wedding to Ben Affleck. She then "postponed" it, blaming it on too much media attention. Yeah, right.

The You've Got to be Kidding Plot Award
It could have been the one worthwhile comment on the lies and deceits and general awfulness of our political life this past year, but Tony and Desmond by Echo Theatre was a heavy-handed allegory about our own dear Tony Blair and his overseas adventures. It was translated into the story of a nutty bullying charmer and his girlfriend (us, the seduced public) and the fireworks party he organises for her. But certain website critics still missed the plot. Maybe this award should go to you lot then.

The Where Are They Now Award
Here's a few questions for David Sneddon, the first winner of Fame Academy. Have you been sacked by your record label? Been thrown out of your million pound flat? Came to the realisation that you're better on keyboards than fronting a band? Have you stopped Living The Lie? Answers on a postcard please.

The Got to Win an Oscar Award
Hollywood has to take notice of Sean Penn's performance in Mystic River. His portrayal of an ordinary working-class man trying to come to terms with his daughter's murder is heart-breaking. And watch out for The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King.

The No Love Lost Award
The gold medal goes to the Stereophonics. Supposedly mates from really young, two of the members sacked drummer Stuart Cable because of problems over "commitment" - but without informing him. Stuart is now apparently taking legal action while singer Kelly Jones is going about saying, "We'll always be mates." Got to wonder if any of them sent any Christmas cards to each other.

The Best Suspend Your Disbelief Moment Award
Bruce Banner turning into the Hulk. After all the hype about director Ang Lee's perfectionism and all the CGI effects, the resultant Green Giant looked about as convincing as the Scooby Doo dog in the Hollywood movie.

The Least Convincing Accent Award
Ray Winstone as a Deep South confederate soldier in Cold Mountain. You're a good actor, Ray, but stick to your Sarf London geezer characters please. Like Enery the Aitf.

The Film Non-event Award
It's got to be the Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions films. Turns out there was only one good movie in this trilogy - The Matrix - and someone out there got a bit greedy. There's only so much you can do with a black leather coat and sun-glasses, you know.

The Best Stage Entrance Award
The most exciting start to a show was Gwent Theatre's Canterbury Tales and they kept up the bawdy, hyperactive comedy and music in the best burlesque traditions until the end. The best exit was Paul Davies in Talk Sex Show at Edinburgh, bidding farewell to the audience, perched by the exit and cackling madly, wearing only a telephone. Class.

The Theatre Directors of Note Award
Phil Clarke from the Sherman in Cardiff is back on form with Caitlin and The Borrowers.

Elsewhere Peter Doran was reliable as ever with a raft of quality productions at the little Torch Theatre in Milford Haven of a standard far higher than anyone has a right to expect.

But for the most reliably exciting direction we can always turn to the RWCMD in Cardiff where Martin Houghton, Firenza Guidi and Jamie Garven (English, Italian and Scots) never fail to startle and impress.

The Good Luck You're Gonna Need It Award
Alex Parks might have won Fame Academy this year, but with last year's winner already on the back-burner - that's David Sneddon in case you forgot - she's going to need all the help she can get staying above her game. Putting out a record mainly filled with cover versions isn't going to win her any favours in the serious music Press. And a pic of her kissing a bloke would only get her five minutes of fame. Time to get out of the pop playground, Parks. Far too serious and worthy and spiky haired by half.

The Women of Theatre Award
It's very much a year for the ladies. Helen Griffin, too long an underrated performer, transformed Mike Kenny's play about Dylan Thomas's wife Caitlin and by the time she got to Edinburgh gave a finely-honed and perceptive performance that turned the ambiguities of the script to advantage. While up there she also stole their Mental show from friend and co-star Jo Brand. Bringing up the rear, and also of major significance at Edinburgh, was Volcano's Fern Smith who was amazing in This Imaginary Woman. Eddie Ladd, another brilliant and charismatic performer, won an award for Club Lux and just recently gave a very unglamorous outsider in Bonnie and Clyde. Kath Dimery and Nikki Rainsford have become fine actors who can work as part of an ensemble and also pull out the stops. Eiry Thomas, excelling in Indian Country, should also be seen more of on the stage and Marega Palser reminded us of what a fantastic performer she is when she made Geoff Moore's multi-media study of Egon Schiele worth watching if only for her stunning dancing.

The Music Moment Award
Bryn Terfel singing with Jose Carreras at his Faenol Festival was a great moment, as was watching one of the lesser-known support acts trip over a monitor during a cheesy medley. Hilarious.

The Most Annoying Person in the Entertainment Industry Award
Anyone got a coin? The list is endless and has got to include Simon Cowell for his smarmy rudeness, Jordan for her awful taste in everything, Jennifer Ellison 'cos she's like an over grown Barbie doll who's better known for her dodgy love life than her singing or acting talents and the Cheeky Girls because they're like walking, talentless tooth-picks.

Artist of the Year Award
Shani Rhys James has already won the £30,000 Jerwood Prize for art this year and a gong at the Western Mail's Welsh Woman of the Year Awards, so chances are she doesn't need another one. But she's got one anyway. Her work draws on childhood memories, re-interpreted imaginatively to create the haunting figures that stare out of her oil paintings. And you wouldn't mind having one on your wall.

The What Put Wales on the Map Award
Caerphilly Cheese. Oh, and Tom Jones's goatee at the Brits. Not related at all.
Western Mail arts pages  
web site
Hannah Jones
Friday, December 26, 2003back



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