Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews


At Company of Sirens

Company of Sirens- The Wolf Tattoo , Chapter , June 20, 2018
At Company of Sirens by Company of Sirens- The Wolf Tattoo The audience is sat on either side of the narrow stage that runs the whole length of Chapter’s Seligman Studio floor. It is strewn with small black leaf-like, glittering pieces and the bodies of the actors, all but one who sits, enigmatically at the side of the stage.

The lights go dark, heavy rock music fills the air. The actors rise and gyrate menacingly to the music strongly setting the strong atmosphere of the play. The script, by award winning writer, Lucy Gough runs allegory and reality side by side. We seem to be in the world of youth, could be now, could be the future. The young men running in packs like wolves, while the young girls stand by almost innocently.

The two boys wrestle in a friendly manner. Away from them Rose, given a magnificent and tender performance by Saran Morgan, toys with a wolf skin that she has destroyed. She seems afraid as she struggles to force the life back into it.

One of the boys, Graf, another outstanding performance from Gwydion Rhys breaks away from the fight and joins her. She is clearly very much in love with him. His love is more uncertain. There is a strong moment between them. Seeing the audience on the other side of the stage, it might be thought would weaken the verisimilitude but in fact it heightens the strength of the theatrical experience.

Rose tells Graf that she is pregnant and asked him to break away from the ‘wolf’ pack and come and live with her, with her baby in the real world. It’s Graf’s struggle with this dilemma that gives us much of the continuing tight narrative of the play. A production so well sculpted by director, Chris Durnall.

Shenks, a hundred per cent committed pack member, a fine, rough performance from Jarred Ellis Thomas urges Graf to get back into the pack. Graf’s wolf nature seems to have been weakened. An elderly, philosophical tattoo artist, named Snakeskin, emerges from the blackness. Graf wants his lover’s name ‘Rose’ tattooed onto his skin inside a heart. The continuing gripping, overwhelming tension is intensified as Snakeskin, such a strong, quiet, penetrating performance from John Rowley, raises the needle to Graf’s arm.

Rose is aided in her fight by her good friend Ash, more innocence and strength from Non Haf. They seek out a place of rescue that is surrounded by huge hanging tubes of red light. Jacob Gough’s lighting of the whole play contributes very largely to the continuing taught atmosphere that now surrounds us.

The pace hots up as these compelling characters move towards their destiny. More tattooing and ‘skin’ poetry from Rowley. The action continues to hold us in its tight grip. It is this feel of almost continuing menace that holds us throughout the gripping story and the extraordinary performances of the cast that gives us such an amazing and satisfying theatre experience.

The performance continues at Chapter until June 30 – See it !

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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