Theatre in Wales

Plays and dance productions in Wales since 1982...

 
Crazy Gary's Mobile Disco by Gary Owen
First presented in 2001 by Sgript Cymru
cast size:3
synopsis:
Saturday night, small town Wales, only one pub, one party and three lads stuck with their school reputations ? the gimp, the geek and the bully. Their dream ? to get the hell out.

With a dead cat stuffed through a letterbox, a soupcon of mindless violence and a perfect woman to die for, Crazy Gary?s Mobile Disco is bursting at the seams with the desperately ordinary, the truly extraordinary, and the just plain mad.

Hysterical, tragic and right up your street, in 90 minutes of fast action, only one of our lads will score. Director Vicky Featherstone?s reputation for excellence coupled with Bridgend Born Gary Owen?s dazzling gift for storytelling promises to be another unmissable hit for this first ever co-production between Paines Plough and Sgript Cymru, the national new writing company of Wales.

Commissioned by Paines Plough. Co-produced by Sgript Cymru and Paines Plough. Directed by Vicky Featherstone.
 

   There are 7 reviews of Sgript Cymru's Crazy Gary's Mobile Disco in our database:
Crazy Gary's Mobile Disco by Gary Owen
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venue
Lyric Studio , Hammersmith
March-01-01
The wayward contours of the working-class Welsh male mind come under the scalpel in this tragically funny trio of monologues. An aborted disco night, a dead cat, the breast of a lady at the job centre, and pigeons with severed heads are all pivotal points in this teeth-grittingly human exploration of different journeys through manhood.

Director Vicky Featherstone won Paines Plough, a Fringe First, and a Herald Angel last year at Edinburgh for her production of Abi Morgan's Splendour. Here, her assured touch resonates from the start, as a young man with the expression of a mutinous goat walks out in front of a club lit by harshly luminous lights, and regales the audience with his knee-in-the-groin bottle-in-the-face approach to life.

The secret of this production's success is that the script - Gary Owen's first - contains potentially farcical elements, but neither Featherstone nor the actors ever play these moments for laughs. Each character is totally absorbed by his dysfunctional personality: Gary has a taste for violence bordering on the psychotic; the crooner Matthew D Melody is sucked into a saccharine romantic world enhanced by his mild form of mental illness; and Russell Markham is imploding from a life full of repressed anger, which is causing everything from impotence to fear of cancer.

You cannot imagine story telling featuring prominently in any of the characters' upbringing, but the actors controls their monologues - each linked tangentially to the same Thursday night at the club - like a tightly crafted piece of music, playing the audience so that each clause resonates.

David Rees Talbot is very effective as the hate-fuelled Gary, an a***hole who dobs enemies into Crimewatch for fun, and Steven Meo is charismatically naive as Matthew D Melody, who thinks Frank Sinatra can save the world. Richard Mylan portrays a lack of confidence with confidence. Ultimately even Anne Robinson would enjoy this Welsh offering.
reviewer:
Evening Standard
Crazy Gary's Mobile Disco by Gary Owen
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venue
Lyric Studio , Hammersmith
March-15-01
The latest production from the consistently exciting Paines Plough does two things. It introduces a blazing new talent in Welsh writer Gary Owen, and it points up the limitations of the storytelling theatre that has become all the rage since the success of Conor McPherson's The Weir.


It sometimes seems that we are breeding a generation of playwrights who might once have tried their hand at the short story or novel, but who now think that end-to-end monologues constitute theatre. They can and do, but it is a partial theatre, even when they are as sparkily written and performed as they are here.
There is also a world of difference between the theatrical dynamic of the intercut monologue style of, for instance, John Corwin's Navy Pier or Richard Cameron's Can't Stand Up For Falling Down, and this trio of monologues. Despite the clever connections that emerge as the evening progresses, Owen's monologues have their theatrical interest limited by the fact that there is only ever one person on stage.


And this kind of storytelling can only sustain your interest for so long - two and a half hours makes you feel that you have been cornered by the pub bore. Someone needs to take a blue pencil to the script.
For all these cavils, it is bliss to come across a writer such as Owen, who is prepared to sink up to his neck in the cesspool of language. Owen writes like an angel with a foul mouth, capturing in his tale of lust, violence and revenge the hellhole that is a small Welsh town on a Saturday night.


In the final monologue from Russell, desperate to escape the town, it becomes clear how intimately connected these stories are; how bully boy Gary, who uses violence to get what he wants, and the mentally fragile Matthew Melody are linked to Russell in a damaging web of relationships. But it all falls brilliantly into place, and there is both fear and fun to be had from Gary's pursuit of "the perfect girl" or Matthew's problems with the DSS and a dead cat. David Rees Talbot as Gary, Steven Meo as Mathew and Richard Mylan as Russell tell you what it is like for them, and you believe every word.
reviewer:
Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
Crazy Gary's Mobile Disco by Gary Owen
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venue
Lyric Studio | Soho Theatre
March-14-01
I never thought an evening with Anne Robinson would be preferable to anything, but Sgript Cymru has changed my mind. This organisation commissions and produces Welsh plays, two of which have been showcased at fashionable London venues and published in Methuen and Oberon paperbacks. The actors, especially Ralph Arliss and Richard Mylan, are appealing, but the lines they have to deliver pretty much confine one's responses to commiseration, pity, and annoyance.

Publication makes Crazy Gary's Mobile Disco seem even worse than it does on stage. Gary, we are told, "is an a-hole, oh yes he is", with "a greasy smile" who is "probably not the most giving or sensitive of lovers". It's a bad sign when a playwright encourages you to sneer at a character before he opens his mouth, and Gary's monologue, full of unhyphenated words, is indeed vile – an hour of boasting about the "major-league fuckable chick" he's pulled that night and the injuries he's inflicted on some smaller chaps. That Gary Owen, the playwright, may intend this portrayal as a mea culpa is suggested by his dedication, to "all the weapons-grade honeys who've been inappropriately handled, 1989-2001: you can take this as one great big hey look I'm really really sorry", an avowal that is not exactly pullulating with sincerity.

Gary's long song to himself is followed by two more soliloquies, from a mentally disturbed lounge singer on the dole and a young man desperate to leave Wales but unable to leave his girlfriend. All three men strike, in different keys, the same note of angry frustration and pound it incessantly. There are flickers of talent here, but they are far outshone by Owen's arch dishonesty and by his confusion of egotism and narcissism.

Art and Guff is not a debate about culture and nonsense but a demonstration of the latter. Catherine Tregenna's play about two Welsh would-be writers (the title is their nicknames) simply shows us that Guff is an optimist, Art a pessimist, and both no-hopers. The play's sole interest is provided by two neighbours who dub the pair "Bill and Ben", colonise their flat, and mesmerise the downcast Art, but this strand fades out before it amounts to much. It's great for local companies to nourish home-grown writers, but, on this showing, Sgript Cymru looks more like a forcing-house.
reviewer:
Rhoda Koenig
Crazy Gary's Mobile Disco by Gary Owen
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venue
Chapter Arts Centre, cardiff
March-05-01
I’ve been obsessed with monologues for what seems months now - in fact it is months - as I have been editing a collection for Parthian Books (One Man One Voice - out April!) and have become fascinated with how the single-voice drama expresses our very postmodernist concern with identity and how it raises the question of the reliability of the narrator. In my collection I had to ask to what extent I believed the stories told by Ted John (from Ed Thomas’s Envy), Burton (from Mark Jenkins’s Playing Burton), Alex (Ian Rowlands’s Marriage of Convenience), Eileen (Frank Vickery’s Sleeping with Mickey) and Lee (Roger Williams’s Saturday Night Forever) - some of whom really thought they were telling the truth, some of whom were patently fantasising and some were somewhere in between.

The most familiar of unreliable narrators are probably some of Alan Bennett’s tv Talking Heads but we’ve seen a Welsh success with Rob Brydon's Marion and Geoff. In literature, Pooter stands out. In the movies, Kevin Spacey’s character in The Usual Suspects is a classic (in fact the film held fewer surprises for me because I had already got into the idea of the unreliable narrator). In brief, we now don’t really trust anyone to tell us the truth because we suspect there is no such thing as the truth - only different versions of it.

This is deeply cynical and reminiscent of Baudrillard’s infamous postmodernist assertion that the Gulf War did not exist. Try telling that to bereaved loved ones, one thought, even if you did sort of know what he meant.

Gary Owen’s first play, premiered in Cardiff though developed by London-based new writing company Paines Plough, consists of three monologues delivered one after the other by a man who runs a disco, a man who wants to be a cabaret singer and a man who wants to escape his life. All three are unreliable narrators but we do actually believe the last - because his story is the one that enables us to make sense of the other two (indeed, all three) and the one which, crucially, gives meaning to the play.

The first, confusingly called Gary (David Rees Talbot), presents himself as hard man, a smooth operator, irresistible to women, with a good line in wit, and the champion of Welsh working-class common sense. We realise in no time that he is a violent repulsive insensitive sexist bully as he tells us how he is about to fuck the fittest chick in the whole wide bastard world (I quote, because the programme is also the play text) and that is how the play will end.

The second, Matthew Melody (Steven Meo), tells us about his beloved Candy, about his troubles at the dole office and the neighbour’s cat, and about how he wins the karaoke competition. With no little discomfort we recognise him as someone mentally ill, with a tenuous grasp on reality, living in sheltered accommodation, whose precious Candy wants him only for his drug prescription.

The third, Russell (Richard Mylan), is a little different: a man with a chip on his shoulder, sexist, articulate, determined he’s leaving his partner and the town. But more than the other two, what you see is what you get. Russell’s story may, of course, be as fictional or as self-deceptive as the other two. But it makes sense.

As Russell’s monologue moves on we realise that the other two were not, as we wrongly supposed, unrelated. When Gary beats up a karoke host and forces him to leave his local pub so that Gary’s disco can be reinstated, the contest is curtailed so that the bald crooner called Matthew wins; when Gary chats up a gorgeous girl at a party it turns out to be Russell’s disaffected partner; when Gary then beats up her boyfriend who takes her away from the party, the victim is Russell. And Russell recognises Crazy Gary as the one-time school bully, the obnoxious tough kid who had humiliated two younger and weaker boys, one of whose mind flipped and one who had lived with the guilt ever since.

And Russell decides to expiate his guilt, to atone for the damage done to Matthew, to foreclose… So Crazy Gary was wrong, the play does not end with him "pulling the perfect girl". In an unusually non-postmodernist twist, we find that maybe people do not behave randomly, purposelessly, in some amoral meaningless world between signifier and signified: with all the inevitability of a Greek tragedy, people are like they are because of events and other people and Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco ends up being an old-fashioned revenge tragedy.

It is a very neat idea for a play and it does work remarkably well. It’s written in a manic South Walian street lyricism about an apparently meaningless world, one shared by Ed Thomas and James Hawes and Twin Town, but one that only makes sense when you have the whole story. The characters grab you, as they have to in monologues, and Owen succeeds surprisingly in engaging us for much of the time - there are too many anecdotes, an excess of in-yer-face calculated offensiveness. But Vicky Featherstone’s direction rarely flags and each performer has great presence. A bit of a marathon - but worth it.

reviewer:
David Adams
Crazy Gary's Mobile Disco by Gary Owen
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venue
Chapter Arts Centre, cardiff
March-05-01
Thanks for the melody, Matthew D. Melody that is, played by Steven Mayo who not only wins top marks for the delightful air of naivety that he brings to his performance but also for the way he wins the heartfelt sympathy of the audience for the situation he finds himself in. Of the three characters in the play his most successfully combines the elegance of the writing with the very down-to-earth nature of the story of the play. Along with Richard Mylans as Russell Markham, they both set up images in the stirs they tell so clearly it feels as if we are seeing a film of the action hay describe unfolding before us.

Author Gary Owen knows the highs and lows of his generation. His knack of describing the gutter aspects of life in such a stylistic manner is somas times at odds with his plot. This is more than made up for in the ay his craft and his insights and comments, which arise naturally from the dialogue, give us a remarkably revealing picture of humanity from a particular individual purposive.… David Talbot Ress's performance demonstrated that quality of professional excellence that was a mark of the whole production with its excellent set and lighting. However, his character looked far too clean and he exuded an order that was too pleasant for the low life character he was playing. One small blip in an otherwise very fine chievement

The play is written in a particular style that i didn't find entirely. satisfactory but that just alma mater of personal taste.

Paines Plough have long been known been known for this quality of work. This marriage with Sgript Cymru has a lot going for it.
reviewer:
Michael Kelligan
Crazy Gary's Mobile Disco by Gary Owen
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venue
Chapter Arts Centre, cardiff
February-13-01
SGRIPT Cymru, in a co-production with London-based theatre company Paines Plough, presents an affecting if bleakly comical view of the male psyche in its latest offering.
Gary Owen’s first stage play takes the form of three monologues and combines stand-up comedy with storytelling.

David Rees Talbot, Steve Meo and Richard Mylan play the parts of three young men who can’t leave town and find themselves unable to develop beyond their schoolyard roles, re-enacting scenes of increasing violence in a pub, a party and on the streets.

Owen takes us into the minds of the bully, the victim and the prevaricator in a small-town world of drugs, drink, karaoke and a shared quest for the perfect girl.

It is not completely obvious that their stories are interlinked and even collide, but a drama unfolds, if only in our minds.

There is work to be done on further differentiating the three characters, for the playwright’s voice seems to dominate throughout, a clever wordiness that doesn’t allow the characters freedom to “escape” and perhaps doesn’t give the audience enough reason to believe.

But there are wonderful moments: David Rees Talbot as the thug unable to control his anger who crumbles before the “perfect girl”; Steve Meo as sentimental karaoke singer Mathew D Melody and Richard Mylan as troubled dreamer turned reluctant catalyst.

It’s a show not to be missed.
reviewer:
Western Mail
Captivating monologues
Crazy Gary's Mobile Disco by Gary Owen
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venue
Traverse Theatre, Glasgow
May-10-01
Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco, Gary Owen's play about 3 dysfunctional people from a small Welsh town escapes cliché simply by being incredibly well written and acted. I was dubious about the length of each monologue as I entered the theatre, but was absolutely captivated throughout.

The play begins with the bully, Gary, ranting for some 45 minutes. But Gary is not repentant, nor is he successful. Indeed, his mobile disco's regular pub slot has been replaced by karaoke when we meet him. Gary, uses this as a perfect situation in which he can kick someone in, the karaoke compere, this time. David Rees Talbot plays, with excellent spirit, Gary - both the unenlightened male and its antithesis - almost realising the pointlessness of his own existence and continuing it just for the sake of it. I was left with a very empty feeling after watching him.

Next is Matthew D. Melody, cabaret singer, rekindling marriages and relationships with his voice, but only for five minutes. He's telling this to the lady in the job centre. Playwright Owen is very good at keeping the audience going for some minutes, then revealing a harsh reality. A product of bullying, under the care of social services, Matthew sings in public, gets down at street corners to pray, and has violent episodes with household pets. Steven Meo's Matthew excellently flits from one sudden state of mind to another - at once resigned and furious about everything going wrong for him

Russell Markham, Richard Mylan, is the third trying to escape a dysfunctional marriage and the small town he is stuck in. The link, we eventually discover is that he and Matthew were best childhood friends when Gary bullied them. This theme is a bit stale, and Russell’s piece does not have either the same humour, or realism as the first two, letting the whole down somewhat. However, Mylan's Russell is very well acted and even though the story goes a bit overboard at the end, Mylan fills the piece with so much energy, that it still works.


This play is well written and captivating with incredible energy displayed by all three characters. They never appear on stage together, but their lives are permanently affected by each other. Their monologues are filled with twists that link them, and the links are well produced. Dramatised small town angst can be a bit hackneyed, Gary Owen's Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco avoids being so.
reviewer:
Kenny Morrison (Edinburghguide.com)

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