Theatre in Wales

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First Look-back on the Year: Theatre in Wales 2018

Theatre in Wales: Comment

Wales Arts Review , Theatre in Wales , December 7, 2018
Theatre in Wales: Comment by Wales Arts Review Wales Arts Review is first off the block with its look-back on the year. 2018 was by any standard a year that stood out. There was more publicity for a start for the theatre of Wales in 12 months than in the last 10 years put together. It is all there in the news stream to the left. But a culture in ferment is a good 'un. Harry Lime's small speech in the high-up cabin at Vienna's Prater never fades.

The 11 critics boiled 2018 down to 10 shows. If there were a collective noun for reviewers it ought to be a divergence of critics. The list is good but reveals- pure Wales- the M4 bias- 9 out of 10 were on the Newport-Cardiff axis.

If there is a jostle to get into a top 10 that is all to the good. So to put the balance straight-

Theatr Pena gets better and better, “Woman of Flowers” a peak, and loved by audiences. With respect to the wise reviewers down south it was production of the year.

Theatr Clwyd gave a young director her chance and produced an innovative spin on Tennessee Williams with their “A Streetcar Named Desire.” It shows how classics can be done with attack and respect and without gimmicks.

Hijinx ploughed new depths of cheekiness and irreverence with “the Flop.” The audience I was in was near collapse with laughter. The chorus line on its main song is unrepeatable on a site that is open to all eyes.

Theatr na Nog walked the talk and got “Nye and Jennie” out to venues in Wales and Scotland. Its production detail and acting were exquisitely honed.

By all accounts "the Wood", toured by the Torch, was a fine response by theatre to the centenary commemoration of the Armistice.

Lastly, Welsh cultural policy is mired in heritage to its enfeebling. Vibrant arts and tourism are antagonists. Theatr Clwyd again at least charged headlong into the distemper of our days with “the Assassination of Katie Hopkins.” And I was buoyed up by their childrens' sci-fi adventure. “How to Spot an Alien.”

Wales Arts Review’s Top 10 Stage Productions of the Year

All But Gone (The Other Room)

Cardiff Boy (Red Oak Theatre Company & The Other Room)

Exodus (Motherlode & Chapter Arts Centre)

Fel Anifail (Sherman Theatre)

Highway One (August 012 & Wales Millennium Centre)

Home, I’m Darling (Theatre [sic] Clwyd & The National Theatre)

Lovecraft (Not the Sex Shop in Cardiff) (Carys Eleri & Wales Millennium Centre)

Moby Dick (Tin Shed Theatre Company)

Nyrsys (Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru)

The Last Five Years (Leeway Productions)

Source reference:

Postscript: no disrespect is meant to the admirable critics of Wales Arts Review. It is a rare bright spark in a culture of dullness, operating on a shoestring in a climate where big media has no critical interest in its own culture.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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