Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

At Mercury Theatre

Mercury Theatre Wales- Spangled , Chapter , May 3, 2013
At Mercury Theatre by Mercury Theatre Wales- Spangled We are back in 1993 and itís club night down at Chapter, the strobes are strobing, the music is thumping, the pills are popping and the DJ is King! Like all the cast in this high pitched yet intimate night out, Lee Mengo gives DJ Johnny both a subtle and vital performance. He lets us see through the carefree front he presents to the world. He appears to be unconcerned that he has got his girl friend Donna pregnant. It hurts him that he despises his father, thereís a sensitive and vulnerable kid underneath. But itís all in the music!

And there is plenty of it in the darkened Chapter theatre now stripped of its seats. Itís a dance night and we are all invited to join in and rock with the cast. A bouncer type hurried us in, the backs of our hands were stamped to show we had paid and we were given small laser wands that flashed in the dark. Some might have been offered pills but I am sure they were harmless replicas. Jason May as the drug-dealing screwball Steve lets see that there is a soul deep down in this bellowing businessman obsessed with his mobile phone, his drugs and sex. He shares a line with Lucy and off they go behind the clothes rack. This is a strong performance of a very bewildered man who just wants his wife to come and sort out the mayhem. But itís all in the music.

Angel, Sian Davies spends most of the night up on a podium. She writhes provocatively but with innocent beauty shining from her eyes she is no femme fatal but all the better for that. But no matter itís all in the music and the music is all in Angel.

During the clubbing hours morality seems to go out the window, it seems that being there for the music justifies this. Sean, Jason Marc-Williams brings his shy mate, Gary into the club to fit him up. They join in and rave with the crowd. In between the music Marc-Williams gives a very strong performance. We almost get the whole story of his life in well-drawn emotional outbursts. Making her theatre debut Holly Fry as pregnant Donna has a sensitive story to tell, that does not prevent us from seeing real passion burst from her dancing.

The abandoned dancing, which by now has the packed audience fully involved, is very much a big feature of the evening but there is real consequence in the numerous narratives that keep coming through. Director Bethan Morgan has done a wonderful job bringing this complex technical show into being with such minimum resources. With her fellow Mercury Theatre directors, Lynn Hunter and David Prince together they have devised a strong line and made us care about the lives of the characters that they have created. It is the deep theatre understanding that arises from the over one hundred years of experience they have between them that shows through.

If you want to relive your teenage life or just live vicariously for an hour or so go out and get Spangled!

The run at Chapter goes on until Sat 4th May, then the show bops on to Aberystwyth, Swansea, Newport and Merthyr Tydfil.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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