Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Theatre, Ecology and Fun

Lady Augusta

Small World Theatre , Llanerchaeron , July-21-14
Lady Augusta by Small World Theatre Lady Augusta is an Edwardian lady of means, with the leisure to pursue her scientific curiosity and interest in nature. Bound by the dress code of her era she is obliged to wear a long skirt and tight bodice, even on a hot and sultry Saturday in July. She is visiting Llanerchaeron with a trio of fellow enthusiasts. One is in waistcoat and bowler hat and summons an audience in Llanerchaeron’s courtyard. Lady Augusta comes with a natural advantage in attracting followers for her wood and meadow explorings. In the hands of Bill Hamblett she is ten feet tall- although “In the hands of” might be better be read as “on the shoulders of.”

Theatre in Wales has put on a season of sparkle this year for young audiences. Lady Augusta makes her appearance after tours of “Gwyn” and “Madog.” The three shows along with Agor Drysau are timely because a report of some weight has just been published.

“Critical Mass: Theatre Spectatorship and Value Attribution” is written by a seven-member group of theatre veterans. It is in truth a daunting one hundred and twenty-five pages, but its methodology is rock solid and it has the endorsement of heavyweight partners in the form of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Young Vic and Plymouth’s Theatre Royal. It is not for the casual reader but the graphic on page twenty-six deserves the widest circulation. It addresses and ranks the nine elements that an audience values.

One finding is that memories and images of theatre permeate a lifetime. That is unsurprising but it is revealing that sixty percent of the sample of respondents has experienced theatre before the age of ten and many have performed at school themselves. In a useful summary one of the authors David Edgar writes “the later you start, the less likely you are to place theatre at the centre of your life.” Edgar’s report from England is dispiriting. Primary school participation in arts activities is down by a third in four years. One aspect he does not mention is Ofsted and an attitude of indifference; if it cannot be measured it's dead stuff.

Back in Llanerchaeron Lady Augusta and her entourage end their explorations, one of three this day, in the long grasses of the meadow adjacent to the House. Big nets are handed out in search of interesting fauna- any to be caught will be swiftly released. The National Trust which is host has undergone a refreshing jolt under its Dolgellau resident of a Chair. These outings of Lady Augusta are part of a cross-Britain initiative by the charity Plantlife “Save Our Magnificent Meadows”, whose ten partners include the National Trust in Wales.

But ecological purpose is not a motive force for theatre, although it well may be an incidental result. Its intention is delight and that is what is on show. Lady Augusta herself was to be seen last weekend in that most wonderful of locations, Sydenham’s Horniman Museum. She is now back in her residence above the River Mwldan. Enquiries as to her future explorations should be made to that remarkable Cardigan building that is the home of Small World Theatre.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

back to the list of reviews

This review has been read 1451 times

 

Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © keith morris / red snapper web designs / keith@artx.co.uk