Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Flying Bridge Flies

A Regular Little Houdini

Flying Bridge Theatre , Aberystwyth Arts Centre , February-10-17
A Regular Little Houdini by Flying Bridge Theatre That first word in the company's name fits. Since its first tour of Wales “A Regular Little Houdini” has done San Diego and environs. Edinburgh of course is a given. Adelaide is location for the biggest theatre festival in the Southern hemisphere. “Houdini...” is there next month at the city's distinguished Bakehouse Theatre. Off-Broadway beckons before 2017 is out. It is vying with “Playing Burton” for the most global work of Welsh theatre of recent times.

It helps that it travels lightly. Since its first production it has acquired a design item that is ingenious and elegant. The action has grown more economical and the visual climax given a faster snap. If it is travelling far and wide it is because it is deserving. It is powerfully of Wales but with none of the encrustations and piousnesses of heritage theatre. Naturally funders have helped in their way, but kept their distance from a big commitment. But then “A Regular Little Houdini” has a properly crafted script.

These formal qualities impressed when it was seen at Carmarthen's Lyric Theatre. The first act dramatic climax still terrifies even when the denouement is known. It is a structural first act in a show without interval. The seeding of runners that reoccur late on is pure writing craft. The action moves across private and public spaces.

A second viewing is reminder of how trenchantly it evokes Newport in its era of industrial zenith. Daniel Llewelyn-Williams’ character Alan is born in 1895 and thus on hand to witness the opening of the transporter bridge. It is also a performance that is tribute itself to performance. Conjuring does not over-intrude but the tricks with playing cards, coin and cigarette are executed with a professional's finesse. Theatre's true location occurs early on. Visitors view Newport's mighty Lyceum Theatre with eyes of awe.

On June 23rd a majority chose among other things to terminate hill farming in Wales. Heritage theatre will avert its eyes. One of the best historians made comparison of that febrile season with the time of immigration from Ireland. Violence was committed by the disadvantaged against other groups of disadvantaged. Similar violence was to be suffered by both Arabs and Jews in Wales. Alan's grandfather tells of the destitute arrivals from their country of famine. As human ballast they are cheaper than buying sand to weigh down the homeward voyage of the coal ships. As in the other river entries they are not given the dignity of landing on a quayside. They are dumped in the river and the particular nature of the Usk, the silt, is lethal.

Llewelyn-Williams' plot also incorporates the collapse of the South Dock trench in 1909, the worst industrial accident outside the mining industry. The description is vivid and horrifying. A memorial stands to the lives lost in Newport's cemetery. Daniel Llewelyn-Williams fictional family makes a visit. Some names are not known; many of the victims were anonymous migrants.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

back to the list of reviews

This review has been read 168 times

There are 4 other reviews of productions with this title in our database:

 

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