Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Life Story of Fascination

Cwmni'r Frân Wen

Cwmni Franwen- Dim Diolch , Space 1, Space on the Mile, Edinburgh , August 5, 2014
Cwmni'r Frân Wen by Cwmni Franwen- Dim Diolch Theatre seems to colonise ever more of Edinburgh's central buildings in August year on year. The Space on the Mile is for the other eleven months a corporate meeting room for the Radisson Blu Hotel. The hotel foyer itself is all stripped-out modernity with no colour brighter than black and white. The performance space to one side is comfortable and quietly ventilated. The marriage of corporate setting and Anglesey theatre company is perhaps emblematic of the subject of their production, a selection of venue of some canniness.

“Dim Diolch”, which toured Wales in 2013, is a story of such fascination as to transcend the necessarily episodic structure that Iola Ynyr is obliged to follow in her dramatisation. Carwyn Jones' George is first seen in Chicago with chess-playing friend Martin Thomas' Al. He is the young academic in waistcoat, checked shirt and bow-tie, smitten with student Julia (Ceri Elen.) His life of turbulence leads him on to parenthood and thyroidal cancer which he survives but leaves him with a paralysed shoulder. In 1967 the insurance money enables him to start a new life of scholarship in London.

Price's gift to history is the Price Equation which connects altruism into evolutionary theory. Altruism was long a puzzle to researchers, as well as anathema to dominant ideologies, Marxism in the lead. Price himself comes to embody altruism, abandoning his possessions, and finding company in the latter scenes with a homeless man, the raggedy Smokey. Behind it Iola Ynir portrays the paradox of the saintly. Price may know all the algorithms for kindness but he is not very adept when it comes to its application with those closest to him.

Cwmni Franwen has a set larger than many of the thousand companies in Edinburgh this season. An assembly of cabinets and small lamps indicates both home and the academic working space. When Price is hospitalised they form a bed. Director Ffion Haf's production comes with several strengths. A sound design of subtlety combines lilting piano, children and the voices that invade his head early on. The acting has an affecting delicacy to it, all the more so with the close-up nature of an Edinburgh space. Price ends a tentative date by impetuously thrusting flowers, vase and all, towards his companion.

The company had a choice to make on its first visit to Edinburgh. The play was conceived. developed and written in the makers' first language. The right decision was made. Their method of communicating in English the essence of the play is both new and entirely sufficient. Rendered fully in English “Dim Diolch” would have been just one more production within the great behemoth of the Fringe. By retaining the freshness of the original production it feels a distinctive gem

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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