Theatre in Wales

Plays and dance productions in Wales since 1982...

Inside Out by Lesley Ross
First presented in 2001 by Theatr y Byd
cast size:3
Inside Out, written by Welsh-born Lesley Ross (‘Pick of the Edinburgh Fringe’) in collaboration with Chris Morgan, offers an insight into the world of Ivor Novello:  Wales’ original stage and screen heart throb.  At the height of his fame during The Second World War, Novello was imprisoned in wormwood Scrubs for using bootleg petrol to keep his Rolls Royce on the road, a scheme plotted in large part by a devoted – if misguided – fan.  

   There is 1 review of Theatr y Byd's Inside Out in our database:
Beautiful and Innocent...
Inside Out by Lesley Ross
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Sheman Theatre (Arena Studio)
On this day, in this place I enjoyed the enormous privilege of watching a consummate work of art, a piece of indigenous Welsh Theatre of the highest degree of professionalism and creativity. A work that the English National Theatre and The RSC would have been proud to have produced.

Envisaging a play about Ivor Novello one might expect the sort of campery and romance associated with the great Welshman's life style and musical work. "INSIDE OUT" by Lesley Ross in collaboration with the play's director Chris Morgan goes much deeper than that. Ivor is clearly at the centre of the play and Roland Powell gives a storming performance bringing out so many facets of the complex person that Ivor Novello was beneath the urbanity and sophistication.

Greatly aided by Ross's erudite and elegant script, Powell was able to show us, so beautifully, the romance, the innocence, the self questioning that lies deep in the heart of all great artists and above all Novello's vulnerability. So convincing was the actor, at one point, as he reclined on a chaise longue in a silk dressing gown indulging a young actor he obviously fancied I almost believed I was watching Ivor Novello himself.

But this was by no means a one-man show. The whole cast worked so well as a team that they might have been working together for a very long time. (Would that we had such a company here working in the Capital.) They all believed implicitly in each other and clearly fed off the quality of each other's work, which they celebrated with the greatest respect.

Dyfed Potter did a fine job doubling first as a keen and charming chorus boy then as the much more mature prison chaplain where he brought out so well the man's appreciation and understanding of the difficulties of prison life for a man like Ivor Novello. Imprisoned for a wartime petrol offence. This was Dyfed's professional debut, which bodes very well for his future as an actor. Coming from Rhosllannerchrugog near Wrexham he follows in the footstep of the great much-loved Welsh actor Meredith Edwards.

Again Nina Holloway was so real and so utterly convincing in two clearly defined personalities, first as Olive Gilbert then as 'Mam' Clara Novello Davies. Some of Novello's best-known tunes were skilfully integrated into the performance and beautifully sung by Helen Evans. She made such a delicate and lovely leading lady to Ivor's handsome on stage leading man. Ceris Jones as Bobbie Andrews was the first actor to appear on the stage. With his knowing glance, fine voice and warm personality he quickly put us all at our ease ready for the feast that was to follow.

The teamwork didn't end on stage. In addition to the actors, the writer and the director, designer Sean Crowley made the best possible use of the arena space I have seen for a long while. His evocation of the luxury of a large West-End theatre contrasted well with the desperate bareness of Wormwood Scrubs. Chris Illingworth's lighting and James William's musical direction melded well into the overall production all under the careful eye of Production Manager Dave Roxborough who with Chris Morgan are the present team behind Theatr Y Byd. They all shared a thorough understanding of the project and a common sense of purpose.

The play has been produced in association with The Sherman Theatre and The Torch Theatre, Milford Haven. Prior to Cardiff the play toured to - The Torch, Blackwood, Bristol Old Vic, Swansea, Colwyn Bay. Clwyd, Theatr Cmyru, The Greenwich Theatre, London and Brecon. It will go on to Kilkenny and to Waterford but I feel sure this will not be the last we see of this great work.

The programme for Cardiff was sponsored by publicans J D Wetherspoon who's pub 'The Ivor Davis' named after Ivor Novello (Davis being his real name) has recently opened in Cowbridge Road East in Cardiff only a few hundred yards from the house where a plaque marks Ivor's birth.
Michael Kelligan

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