Theatre in Wales

Plays and dance productions in Wales since 1982...

 
Bystanders
First presented in 2001 by Spectacle Theatre
 

   There are 2 reviews of Spectacle Theatre's Bystanders in our database:
Bystanders
[print]Print this review  now
venue
February-02-01


I grew up living next door to a kid who later became a psychopath and did four years in Broadmoor. The violence he was into when we were young was incomprehensible to me. He seemed unable to feel pain and, consequently, I suppose, was unable to imagine the pain of others. Another friend of mine was reckless and carefree and this manifested itself as a kind of nonchalant courage. Although he wasn't hard, if he saw something going on that he didn't like he'd get involved and often have his face smashed in. Later he became too damaged and moved into a world removed from reality: a world of drink and hallucinogenic substances. These two characters meet in Spectacle Theatre's extraordinary Bystanders.

In a cold but warming little youth club on the outskirts of Hirwaun forty fourteen years olds turned up and segregated themselves on either side of the space reserved for the performance. This in itself was a kind of theatre. With no décor and no lighting and music from a ghetto blaster, the three actors introduced themselves and acted out their story to an audience who received it with the same intensity as Berryman's music lover "riveted to the bare floor listening to Bach". And Bach is a good master here for the piece is structured like a fugue in which the themes and ideas are introduced contrapuntally to one another moving in Theatre Time from the end of the story to the beginning to the middle, building to the climactic opening of the letter that we encounter at the play's start. That letter is from Ryan (played with devastating accuracy by Arwel Davies - reminding me so poignantly of my damaged friend) who has killed himself. The letter is to his three friends: Lucky (played by the outrageously funny Rhodri Johns), Tich (also played by Arwel Davies who creates an astonishing transformation with the simple addition of a pair of glasses) and the girlfriend he never really had, Aimee whose teasing teenage sexuality is made almost sad by the sensuous acting of Karen Diamond. None wants to open the letter. The play is an investigation into why. What responsibility does each have for the death of their friend and the violence that so damaged him that he went off into a private world? That investigation is embarked on with a wonderful mix of humour and in-your-face aggro. I know this all sounds like hyperbole but this is how it is when you're confronted with TOTAL theatre in a bare room constantly aware of the eighty excited eyes that have perhaps never experienced real theatre before.

The logic of violence is brilliantly dramatised in the play and this is followed by a deconstruction of that play and an analysis of the violence in a workshop in which the young audience was as involved as much as it had been with the telling of the story.

To be able to convey the world of the play with such clarity, focus and honesty with such economy - running as it does for only 45 minutes is a great achievement. Which is what I would expect from the undervalued Spectacle Theatre and its excellent and under-rated director Steve Davis. To have done it without any of the gimmicks that aid, shall we say, a bourgeois theatre, testifies to its integrity.
reviewer:
Dic Edwards
Bystanders
[print]Print this review  now
venue
on tour
February-01-01
I grew up living next door to a kid who later became a psychopath and did four years in Broadmoor. The violence he was into when we were young was incomprehensible to me. He seemed unable to feel pain and, consequently, I suppose, was unable to imagine the pain of others. Another friend of mine was reckless and carefree and this manifested itself as a kind of nonchalant courage. Although he wasn't hard, if he saw something going on that he didn't like he'd get involved and often have his face smashed in. Later he became too damaged and moved into a world removed from reality: a world of drink and hallucinogenic substances. These two characters meet in Spectacle Theatre's extraordinary Bystanders.

In a cold but warming little youth club on the outskirts of Hirwaun forty fourteen years olds turned up and segregated themselves on either side of the space reserved for the performance. This in itself was a kind of theatre. With no décor and no lighting and music from a ghetto blaster, the three actors introduced themselves and acted out their story to an audience who received it with the same intensity as Berryman's music lover "riveted to the bare floor listening to Bach". And Bach is a good master here for the piece is structured like a fugue in which the themes and ideas are introduced contrapuntally to one another moving in Theatre Time from the end of the story to the beginning to the middle, building to the climactic opening of the letter that we encounter at the play's start. That letter is from Ryan (played with devastating accuracy by Arwel Davies - reminding me so poignantly of my damaged friend) who has killed himself. The letter is to his three friends: Lucky (played by the outrageously funny Rhodri Johns), Tich (also played by Arwel Davies who creates an astonishing transformation with the simple addition of a pair of glasses) and the girlfriend he never really had, Aimee whose teasing teenage sexuality is made almost sad by the sensuous acting of Karen Diamond. None wants to open the letter. The play is an investigation into why. What responsibility does each have for the death of their friend and the violence that so damaged him that he went off into a private world? That investigation is embarked on with a wonderful mix of humour and in-your-face aggro. I know this all sounds like hyperbole but this is how it is when you're confronted with TOTAL theatre in a bare room constantly aware of the eighty excited eyes that have perhaps never experienced real theatre before.

The logic of violence is brilliantly dramatised in the play and this is followed by a deconstruction of that play and an analysis of the violence in a workshop in which the young audience was as involved as much as it had been with the telling of the story.

To be able to convey the world of the play with such clarity, focus and honesty with such economy - running as it does for only 45 minutes is a great achievement. Which is what I would expect from the undervalued Spectacle Theatre and its excellent and under-rated director Steve Davis. To have done it without any of the gimmicks that aid, shall we say, a bourgeois theatre, testifies to its integrity.
reviewer:
Dic Edwards

If you know of any other existing review, or if you have any more information on Bystanders, (perhaps you were in the production or were the author or director) then please use the form below to send us the details
Add your comments or amendments to our information on Bystanders
your name
e-mail address
What colour is this block?

orange


this helps us fight spam messages . You have to fill in the box for your message to be sent!
 

Privacy Policy | Contact Us | ©2006 keith morris / red snapper web designs / keith@artx.co.uk