Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Gwyn: Gwych

The Best of Touring Theatre

Gwyn- Cwmni'r Frân Wen , Aberystwyth Great Hall , June 3, 2014
The Best of Touring Theatre by Gwyn- Cwmni'r Frân Wen A blizzard of events has hit the Felinfach-Cardigan-Aberystywyth triangle this spring. A characteristic Friday night has seen a Welsh writer moved to Siberia a-launching his book in a cellar bar, Fernhill unveiling a new set of songs and Theatr Genedlaethol touring. The Ceredigion reviewer cannot be everywhere so that, with regret, this site has missed “Y Negesydd”. The report is that a packed exultant Aberystwyth house has been thrilled.

No such problems of over-lap with “Gywn”. Its three showings in Ceredigion include a ten-thirty in the morning and another three hours later. Cwmni'r Frân Wen has brought its own enclosure that sits within Aberystwyth’s Great Hall. The last time this occurred was when Sound and Fury brought their mesmeric “Going Dark”. In a beautiful symmetry that production had for subject the loss of sight, and placed its audience in absolute darkness.

Gwyn is gywn- not just on stage, where costume and set are white, but curtains, floor, benches, the setting in total. The company members on the sound desk and production manager are in white. It is little surprise that heads in the audience are sometimes lifted from the action to gaze at the world into which they have been led.

“Gwyn” has attracted a small audience. That is not small in numbers; the company’s space is full. They have come from Llanrhystud’s Myfenydd school. Year ones and two have reached a certain size and they are mini-giants next to their Derbyn fellow-pupils. And they are attentive. They chuckle and gasp at times, but “Gwyn” is not a laugh-out-loud production. Mostly they watch. A four-year-old face may swivel around occasionally to share its pleasure with a teacher on a bench behind.

“Gwyn” is a two-hander, Bryn Fôn and Rhodri Sion playing characters Titrwm and Tatrwm. The tour is just beginning and takes in ten more venues that include all points south, east and north. Normally a reviewer would alight on details of design, plot or music. To do so would pre-empt the discovery by future audiences. “Gwyn” holds its audience for the most solid of theatrical reasons. It comes without interval but comprises a perfectly formed two-act structure. The first part ends with the fall of night and a stage action that is inventive, visual and pure theatre.

Actors who play to this age group know full well that it knows when it is being patronised. Unlike student audiences they do not switch on smartphones, but they will turn to their own more interesting self-made games. They do not at “Gwyn”, because the emotions are real. The expression that Tatrwm’s face assumes on discovery of an alien element in his world is that of genuine pain. When a small task in their daily routine necessitates the placing of pegs on their noses we can sense the stink. Later the audience both guesses and wants Titrwm to do a certain action. The tension in the waiting is real.

“Gwyn” plays the Wales Millennium Centre 13th/ 14th June. Anyone with an interest in performance-making should be there to see how a script deploys props, sound and light to maximum effect. The script is spare and the language immaterial; the story speaks for itself in purely visual terms. “Gwyn” is economical too. This gem of a production does it all in thirty-five minutes.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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