Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Wildly funny

At Theatr Clwyd

Clwyd Theatr Cymru- Blackthorn , Clwyd Theatre Cymru, Mold , November 12, 2010
At Theatr Clwyd by Clwyd Theatr Cymru- Blackthorn Anyone going into Gary Owen's new play is given the warning that it contains “language”. Well yes it does but the words concerned are uttered seriously as part of power struggles not as gratuitous curses.

Some people do appear to be more disturbed by words used accurately to describe the acts, even if those acts have not, probably, taken place.

So we have a Gary Owen play, set in West Wales, about power games, sexual and otherwise, played between an English couple with a disturbed teenage daughter and the farmer, whose family home they have bought, and his son. There is a threat of violence in the air and maybe we are about to plunge into Straw Dogs style rural mayhem.

Well no actually. Instead we plunge into, often wildly funny, farce.

Philip Bretherton, past master at drawing room comedy, is gloriously pompous as Tom, the townie out of his natural element, short tempered and with big plans. Vivien Parry is superbly catlike as Kate, his rawly sexy wife whose friendliness can easily be misunderstood.

Ifan Huw Dafydd is a joy as their opponent Huw, knowing just which country wiles will cause maximum inconvenience and utterly devious beneath his bluff exterior.

Happily the future is in the hands of Amy Morgan's troubled but maybe not for long Evie and Rhys Wadley's naïve but not that naïve Cian.

The main feature of the set, apart from the convincingly suggested caravan conjured with a single door in the back wall, is a large circle on the floor of the mostly bare acting space. This serves as a combat area when the verbal knives are out and even as a circus ring when the behaviour becomes animal like or clownishly absurd.

Terry Hands' direction keeps everything moving at a ferocious rate. His extremely effective lighting plot changes scenes and moods in an instant.

The high-spot for me was the country walk Tom and Huw take around the circle. As they jockey for the upper hand in rigidly polite conversation we see exactly what the underfoot conditions are like from their body, or rather foot, language.

It's not perfect. The ending just seems to drift away which is a shame. Mostly though it's a well constructed, nicely written (language and all), often funny and always entertaining play.

Reviewed by: Victor Hallett

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