Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Critical Round-up from Edinburgh (2)

Wales at Edinburgh Fringe

Gwyn Emberton Dance, Light, Ladd & Emberton, Mr and Mrs Clark , Edinburgh Fringe Festival , August-27-15
Wales at Edinburgh Fringe by Gwyn Emberton Dance, Light, Ladd & Emberton, Mr and Mrs Clark Gwyn Emberton’s dance adaptation of Caradoc Evans’ “My People” was premiered at Aberystwyth in March last year.

TVBomb (26th August): “My People”, presented by Gwyn Emberton Dance, is inspired by Welsh writer Caradoc Evans’ collection of fifteen short stories of the same name. Evans’ first and most successful work, it highlights what he felt was the hypocrisy of the non-conformist church, finding its self-righteous piety in stark contrast to the poverty and injustice faced by ordinary people. These are dark, parable-like tales that involve madness, sin, ambition, pride, temptation and abuse, and ultimately the abandonment by the self-styled righteous, of those deemed undeserving.

The performance begins with a grim image of a woman tethered by a rope like a beast, walking towards the audience into a low light, until she strains at its limits, madness in her eyes. Such strong, stark images pervade the whole of the piece, which has a bleak intensity throughout. Comprising a series of interconnected short scenes, the performance intertwines several such elements from Evans’ stories together, and there is a definite intensity to the dancing that is in keeping with the harshness of his tales.

Recurring ideas, such as the use of white shirts by the dancers to symbolise religious virtue, work well, and tie the scenes together in an effective manner. White shirts was a term that Evans used in his writings to mean ‘white robes’ or religious raiments (gynau gwynion). As dancers fall from grace, they are divested of their white shirts, and consequently rejected (and possibly abused) by the rest of the community.”

Gwyn Emberton is also a member of Light, Ladd and Emberton in “Caitlin.”

The Scotsman (24th August): “This powerful two-hander does much to convey the complexity of Caitlin and Dylan’s marriage; the hedonistic fun in the early days, the monotony of child-rearing while one partner (Dylan) is off gallivanting; the mental illness and extreme use of alcohol on both parts.

Performers Eddie Ladd and Gwyn Emberton are indefatigable as they fling themselves around the room with energy, passion and desperation. Ladd delivers the occasional line of text, to illustrate her side of the story (we never hear from Emberton – but then this show is called Caitlin, not Dylan), the rest is played out through movement. Most of which involves chairs, which are climbed through, thrown and pushed around – perhaps a bit too much.

It’s not an easy work, but one which leaves you with a strong curiosity to find out more about this troubled, yet fascinating relationship.”

The Herald was at Mr and Mrs Clark and “Smash It Up” 24th August.

“It's not just City of Edinburgh Council who are wilfully ignorant to their city's artistic past as they flog off everything in sight to any property developer who comes calling. In 2013 in Newport, South Wales, Kenneth Rudd's mural commemorating the Chartist uprising of 1839 was destroyed in the underpass it was built into alongside adjacent buildings so the privately owned Friars Walk shopping centre could be built. The response of the South Wales-based live art troupe, Mr and Mrs Clark and their artistic cohorts, Bosch, is “Smash it Up”, a furious hour-long cut-up of performance lecture confessional, artistic actions, film, dance routines and a welter of pop-art detritus that rallies for an assault on the sort of reductive money-led culture that is now the norm.

Using Gustav Metzger's notion of auto-destructive art as its thesis, the two men and one woman who make up Mr and Mrs Clark unleash a wild and often witty plea for artistic and civic preservation that's high on theory even as it throws live art shapes that become increasingly madcap in a gloriously messy collision of activism and art.”

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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