Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

At the Sherman

Sherman Cymru- Ciyscape Patroiophobia & Deluge , various sites in Cardiff , June 14, 2010
At the Sherman by Sherman Cymru- Ciyscape Patroiophobia & Deluge Patroiophobia
A dozen or so of us dismounted from a coach and entered a smart block of flats looking out, in the sunlight, on to Cardiff Bay. We crowded into the hallway of one of the stylishly decorated apartments. The bathroom door was open. Angela, a young woman in her late twenties, maybe early thirties was sat on the toilet, not ‘on the toilet’ but using it as a seat. She was staring at a pregnancy test kit, it was reading positive. We were not able to discern whether this big change in her life was welcome or not. Her mother certainly wasn’t pleased; she was sat in the bath beside her hissing “Get rid of it. Get rid of it.” Angela made no response to her mother’s exaltation, she remained seated. Her mother got out of the bath and herded us politely into the lounge where the body of the play was to take place.

Angela and her partner Simon stand in the centre of the lounge, she tells him the news, he responds with a monosyllabic obscenity. A few platitudinous remarks are exchanged, then they hug and it looks as if celebrations might begin. When Angela is alone we get the same monosyllabic obscenity. Outside on the balcony Simon’s young daughter pleads for her father’s attention. He draws the curtains to obscure her. The baby is born and we follow her development until she reaches her ninth month. All this time daughter Jess seeks her father’s attention and is totally rejected and Angela continually battles with her mother. Writer Bethan Marlow tells us on the first page of her script that the only people actually in the flat are Angela and Simon. She has cleverly interposed the mother and daughter figures that Angela and Simon fear lie within them and how this could affect the way they bring up their own new child. Certainly the mother and daughter are very bizarre characters, perfectly realised by Sharon Morgan and Elin Phillips and as Angela and Simon, Alys Thomas and Gwynfor Jones give us two very fine and convincing performances.

The acting, writing and the directing of Róisin McBrinn was all of an excellent standard but the play gained little from its ‘real’ setting. If we are to intrude into the ‘home’ of the characters we need to be looking through the keyhole taking a look at the intimacies that occur; if what happens goes beyond real time then the setting reverts to being a virtual theatre and strength of the encounter is weakened. Nevertheless a very intriguing hour.

There was no doubting the verisimilitude of the setting of the second play, a magical and fascinating piece of poetic writing by Kit Lambert, a very bright young star on the playwrighting scene here in Wales. The loft at Chapter, not yet having received the attention of the renovating experts does have the feel of a derelict building ready for demolition. This is where the smelly trolley-man has holed himself up along with his vast collection of treasures, useless objects he has collected off the streets of Cardiff. Russell Gomer as Noah gives us a very colourful and well observed performance. His first visitor, the street-wise teenager Rhea, is also given a strong performance by Katy Owen that is both sincere and very funny and Simon Nehan is very convincing as the security guard sent in to evict Noah.

This latter day Noah had only rubbish to fill up his ark ready for the rains to subside, but now he has furnished it with a man and a woman, there is a whole new future and he leaves his old home with Rhea and Woyzeck safe inside and the rains still falling heavily on the dirt stained window panes. Excellently directed by Adele Thomas, Lambert’s short piece was reminiscent of the sagas of old with an almost Homeric touch, a morality play setting out both the hopes and the hopelessnesses of the world we live in.

The Cityscape Project also contains two other plays: Station by Emily Steel and No vacancies by Tracey Harris.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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