Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Toxic Masculinity

Cardiff Boy

Red Oak Theatre , The Other Room , November-05-18
Cardiff Boy by Red Oak Theatre The very adaptable Other Room theatre space is now a room in a pub. We meet our young hero very quickly. We are back in Cardiff in the nineties. He’s one of the lads, not a Kaardiff boy from Tiger Bay; he lives in Llanedeyrn a fairly unremarkable district of Cardiff. He is an enthusiastic photographer; the walls are lined with photographs and negatives developing. He’s also so very keen on music. He is a frequent visitor to Spillers, still today upstairs in Cardiff Market. His cassette playing is an integral part of the great backing music for the story. We get Pulp New Order and Oasis. He and his mates have just done their ‘A’ levels and deciding if they want to go to university or not.

At first actor Jack Hammett gives us an endearing and pleasant young man. The actor’s skill, as well as charming the audience, is in his ability to draw so clearly the pictures of his friends. They are out on a bender, sort of. They go down into a club, he meets a girl, things go well but his friends drag him away to stay with the boys.

They are a tight group: gang would be too strong a word. Writer Kevin Jones gives us the pictures of the other characters with great clarity and creates this world of somewhat intense young men. He, with director Matthew Holmquist and our captivating actor Jack Hammett are as one as we are taken into this world of young men finding growing strengths and the closeness of the bond between them.

These may be Cardiff boys but of course they are boys everywhere.

There’s a lot of reassuring hugging and kissing, again the clarity of Hammett’s acting makes us feel that we are feeling it in there with them. We see most of his friends are a bit like him but there are a couple of ‘bruisers’ in the pack who come to the fore towards the end of of the play where the relationships alter.

Hammett gives us a remarkable strong performance, giving us every mood and high and low that young men are prone to. We are caught in the actor’s hands for the whole exciting 55 minutes.

Whilst Hammett draws us in as he so effortlessly paints all the pictures his command as an actor is always thrilling to watch.

Once again we have a fine piece of theatre art from the ever strengthening Other Room.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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