Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Emlyn Williams

Clwyd Theatr Cymru- The Light Of Heart , Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold. , April 16, 2015
Emlyn Williams by Clwyd Theatr Cymru- The Light Of Heart This is the time of year when Clwyd Theatr Cymru usually puts on a new play by a Welsh writer. This time we have an old play by a Welsh writer, an Emlyn Williams' that I have never heard of. And it really is quite a discovery, particularly in as good a production as this one.

First performed in 1940 but set in the 1930s The Light of Heart concerns Maddoc, a once fine actor now mired in alcohol, and his crippled daughter Cattrin who tries to keep him on the straight and narrow.

When a small role leads to an offer to play King Lear in the West End it looks as though the future might once more be bright.

Lora Davies directs the play wholly and convincingly in period, especially in the matter of accents. Excellent work by voice coach Hugh O'Shea ensures that the clipped and slightly precious tones of shabby genteel London are present and correct.

Gwyn Vaughan Jones is excellent as Maddoc, an emotional roller coaster of a performance that ranges from drunk to sober, from pitiful to commanding, from love to self-pity. He completely convinces as the actor he once was and may be again and, this being Emlyn Williams, has the chance to show Maddoc's Welsh upbringing in full measure.

Charlotte Gray is equally strong as Cattrin, hoping always to give him the strength to stand on his own feet and suddenly finding a chance for her own happiness within grasp. They are a wholly convincing father and daughter.

There's a magisterial performance from Victoria John as the woman from Maddoc's past who wants to offer him a new chance. With impeccable Scottish accent and a flamboyant wardrobe she clearly inhabits a different world.

The shabby boarding house, excellent set by Simon Kenny, is also occupied by floozy and lush Fan, pitch-perfect Catrin Aaron, and Barty, a loveable failure nicely played by Michael Geary.

Newly resident is dapper Robert, songwriter and maybe gigolo. Richard Atwill, with moustache as clipped as his accent, gives him layers of complexity, making him a wholly convincing object of desire for Cattrin.

Sara Harris-Davies is an entertaining comic landlady and Joshua McCord is utterly charming as Bevan, a Welsh policeman with no sense of humour.

This absorbing, gripping and very entertaining production made me feel I had been transported back in time. Old fashioned in the best sense of the word, it even managed to suggest Chekov in its final act.

Reviewed by: Victor Hallett

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