Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Sensitive Grandparent & Grandchild Tale

Ŵy, Chips a Nain

Cwmni'r Frân Wen , Aberystwyth Arts Centre , March-09-18
Ŵy, Chips a Nain  by Cwmni'r  Frân Wen A millennial informed me recently that his generation felt that children of today, the cohort of 2010 and after, had lost something. His generation, ran the explanation, would watch a hit film, pick up some sticks and play at being Aragorn and Legislas. For all those hereafter the VR Headset means they can be the heroes of Middle Earth. It is perhaps not as simple as that, but the territory of childhood, familial and spatial, has changed. “Ŵy, Chips a Nain” is a view from another world.

Cwmni'r Frân Wen's touring show plays out in a world with no part for intervening machinery. It is a sun-flecked setting of lino tiles and dowdy furniture; the absence of an electric dryer means that sheets are pegged out on washing lines. Eight year old Guto is able to play that most ancient of games. He cups his hands and shapes his arms to make the shadows of animals. Nain is as grandparents were in memory, the supplier of bounty and kindness. In fact the shadow animals are cue for a turning point in the story. The shape is there in shadow, a giraffe, but for Nain the word has gone.

The disorder accelerates. The laundry on the line is uncleaned. Guto's mother has seen the hazard of the chip pan. The inevitable happens and a fire ensues. The destiny of the care home beckons. Gwyneth Glyn's seventy-five minute script, set across beach and house, home and away, is done with delicacy and captures the relationship between grandparent and grandchild. It uses stage resource for its action, the deep learning of semaphore code flagging meaning across the stage where language falters.

The co-production with Galeri has had support from Pendine Academy of Social Care. By chance two plays on dementia are criss-crossing on tour this month. It is unsurprising that dementia has made its way to a central place for staging. The disintegration from within has displaced cancer to become the most feared of diseases. “Y Tad” is the best manifestation that theatre can, or probably ever will, do. Compassion evoked by the view from without is one level of experience; Florian Zeller's play takes us terrifyingly inside.

Cwmni'r Frân Wen puts on its characteristically high quality of production standard. Osian Gwynedd's music is beautifully judged. Director Iola Ynyr elicits performances of nuance from Gwenno Hodgkins and Iwan Garmon. Joe Fletcher's lighting underpins the swings of tone that accompany the relationship. “Wy, Chips a Nain” is far different from “Dilyn Fi”. There is small occasion for laughter but it held its young audience utterly absorbed.

The tour continues to Rhyl. Pontio and Chapter until 22nd March.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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