Theatre in Wales

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At Made in Wales

Made in Wales- Queen of Hearts , Sherman Theatre , June 1, 1998
Germanv's most influential post-war playwright, the late Heiner Mueller, once described theatre's role as a resurrection of the dead Two such theatrical resurrections took place at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff in early June,where two Welsh authors premiered their latest works for the stage.

In Christine Watkins's play, the passionate objections it generated even before its first performance came as no surprise.

As soon as Made in Wales, the Cardiff-based company for new dramatic writing, released the information that it had commissioned the dramatist to write a play on the legacy of the Princess of Wales, the project was branded as tasteless, despite the company's assurance that the work was conceived as a "tribute" to the princess. Why such concern about the exploitation of Diana's image and the correct form of her memory when both of these are violated daily in the mass media on a scale far larger than theatre could ever achieve? Is it the particular nature of live performance, the prospect of a real embodiment on stage, that made the objectors feel uneasy? Interestingly, their worries about representation and commemoration were precisely the issues that the play attempted to address.

A Diana impersonator's quest for a life, after the death of her role-model, brings her in contact with a photographer, who seizes his chance to cash in on pictures of the living double, a transvestite cabaret singer with an obsession for the dead princess and a former prostitute, who in the face of her own approaching departure from life is working on a garden of remembrance. By playing with themes such as embodiment, representation and memory, the drama also queries the legitimacy of its own undertaking. Its answer to the implicit anti-theatrical prejudice of its critics is an emphatic affirmation of theatre's unique ability to deal with these issues. Unfortunately, in the end, it is the theatre that lets the play down. Jeff Teare, whose pragmatic directoral style works so well with the unambiguous, realist writing of young authors such as Roger Williams, fails to tease out some of the spiritual and philosophical overtones of Watkins's script. Her study in haunting, albeit more implicit in the writing than fully developed, thus turns into a light-weight farce bordering on the banal.

Reviewed by: Heike Roms

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