Theatre in Wales

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At Theatr Clwyd

Theatr Clwyd and Invertigo Theatre- My People , Theatr Clwyd , November 12, 2015
At Theatr Clwyd by Theatr Clwyd and Invertigo Theatre- My People The Welsh community portrayed in My People is the dark flipside to that in Under Milk Wood. It's no surprise to discover that Caradoc Evans caused offence with his short stories. This is a chapel congregation full of fear, loathing, hatred, intolerance and disgust.

The problem with Steffan Donnelly's stage adaptation is that it doesn't give you anyone to root for, apart from the series of female victims played by Roanna Lewis. The framing is ingenious, a present day gentler congregation shows a degree of niceness that soon vanishes when they find themselves enacting the black-hearted stories of the earlier generation. There's even a question of how much has changed if the look that his wife, Valmai Jones, aims at the preacher, Hugh Thomas, when he dares suggest that theirs is a happy marriage, is anything to go by.

There are moments of humour but there are also times when it is difficult to watch. A wife in a bridle and harness for example or the verbal bile poured on anyone who dares to transgress the chapel codes.

The design is ingenious. Cécile Trémolières' white chapel has many small windows that slide up to become acting spaces and even the floor has a hidden secret.

Michael Geary roars to great effect while Sion Alun Davies and Rhys Meredith slip well between innocence and hypocrisy. Hugh Thomas is a very convincing preacher, particularly in Hell Fire mood. Valmai Jones spits hatred well.

At present this is a production of isolated moments but it doesn't yet cohere or grow into something greater than its parts. Certainly worth a look but be prepared to feel uncomfortable at times.





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My People by Caradoc Evans adapted by Steffan Donnelly.
Theatr Clwyd and Invertigo Theatre

Reviewed by: Victor Hallett

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