Theatre in Wales

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“Mandatory viewing this spring”- reviewers enthusing

At the Sherman

Tremor- Sherman , Sherman Theatre , April 23, 2018
At the Sherman by Tremor- Sherman To say that Cardiff theatre is on a roll is to state the obvious. An Olivier award is it. For a theatre company it does not get any better. There is only one way upward. That is for a production of Wales to seize the main stage of a London theatre that is a step up from the slightly condescending title of “affiliate” theatre. But Wales will never do a “Everyone's Talking About Jamie”. Not because the talent is not there. It's the Thing, outside the rainbow of practitioner talent who actually makes theatre, who would inhibit it.

The Sherman is keeping up the pace in 2018. It is not often that a writer in the culture of Wales says anything acerbic. But Jafar Iqbal, for Wales Arts Review, looked to the Sherman with the remark “once teetering towards mediocrity, the venue found a calling card and a stability.” He was referring to Effie of course. In Brad Birch's “Tremor” he found a strong piece in that tradition.

In edited summary:

“Birch’s characters...Tom and Sophie, meeting after four years, are as close to diplomatic as former lovers can be. Though politics is central to how the story progresses, this is by no means a political play. Tremor is about the ways in which people cope with trauma, with our two leads representing two opposing mechanisms. They dance around Hayley Grindle’s beautifully simple stage like gladiators on a battlefield, cautiously jabbing one another with astutely written back-and-forth exchanges. As their coping shields start to falter, the tension ratchets up. Sounding at times like the ebbs and flows of a boiling kettle, Sam Jones’ piercing score fills the gaps that follow each major blow. Each blow get heavier, more painful, neither character wanting to concede defeat. It’s thrilling.”

Like “Black Mountain”, reviewed February, the review reads as if Birch has not quite worked out the skill of a rounded-out climax which is also summation. But then the route there can still be gripping

“Lisa Diveney and Paul Rattray are excellently cast as the ex-partners and deserve plaudits for giving such emotionally charged performances night after night. While the script eloquently vocalises the play’s themes, it’s the silences and the facial expressions that the audience react most strongly to. It’s as much about the actors’ ability and chemistry as it is about Mercatali’s command of the production...Mercatali has moulded it into must-watch theatre.”

James Ellis was there for Arts Scene in Wales. The conclusion of his review reads “Director David Mercatali, gives us a gripping time in the theatre, tightly presented. The simple set from Hayley Grindle is a miniature bullring, formulating an always probing trial for these two. The lighting from Ace McCarron also reveals all, as the figures never seem to leave its exposure. Sound work from Sam Jones is the quietest I may have ever heard, adding an extra dimension which made me questioned if the sound was from the speakers or the trains outside. Though the show belongs to the two performers, finally crafted by both Rattray and Diveney. Tom is brought to life with a cutting, Scottish manner and Sophie is given a near stern, if frail persona here.
Tremor is mandatory viewing this spring.”

A London broadsheet made a trip to Senghenydd Road. As previously reported I have more or less lost interest in what visitor critics have to contribute. Their cherry-picking distorts the coverage of Welsh theatre; either write about what is happening in Mold and Cardiff properly or don't do it all.

The reviews in full are on

http://www.walesartsreview.org/theatre-tremor-sherman-theatre/

https://www.asiw.co.uk/reviews/tremor-brad-birch

Get the Chance has a novel-form mixed feature-review on

http://getthechance.wales/2018/04/18/video-subtitled-review-of-tremor-at-the-sherman-studio-in-cardiff-by-roger-barrington/#more-10101
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Picture credit: Mark Douet

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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