Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

A Good Laugh at Heritage Culture

The Wrong Ffion Jones

Ffion Jones , The Vault, Waterloo , February-25-19
The Wrong Ffion Jones by Ffion Jones Satire is a sure-fire indicator. It blooms when a culture is in a full flower of robustness, gusto and self-assurance. Daumier, Grosz and Scarfe are among the greats. It is good for everyone when the pious, the pompous and the powerful get a dose of mockery. It is good too when wordy critics are taken down a peg or two. Heinrich Heine lambasted his critic Freiligrath. Linnaeus gave the name of his most regular critic to a small, ill-smelling weed.

The Augustan Age was a great era for satire. Alexander Pope called it “oh, sacred Weapon! In Truth's defence, Sole dread of Folly, Vice and Insolence.”

Heritage culture gets a good ribbing in “the Other Ffion Jones.” It is of and about Wales but, unfortunately, not to be seen here. It nonetheless deserves its place in the record.

The Spy in the Stalls was there. In extract:

“What does it mean to be Welsh? And what does it mean to be Welsh when everything you know and love about Wales is under threat?

“In a dystopian near-future, Wales has become ‘Walesland’ – a stifling theme park of itself cynically controlled by tycoons Bevan, Bevan, Bevan and Co. (The choice of name is presumably a cheeky nod to Rhys Bevan, the show’s director).

"Jones works as a tour guide and finds herself faced with a horrible moral dilemma when the Bevans offer her an opportunity that puts her trade – and that of her colleagues – at risk. To complicate matters further, she is becoming the face of a rebellion against their corporate values. Will she abandon her principles? Or will she put Wales before her own interests and lead the revolution?

“In telling the story, Ffion brilliantly embodies its various characters, flitting between them with remarkable wit and invention...she conjures up three-dimensional scenarios with a winning blend of physical agility and comic flair.

“The humour is surreal and sophisticated. While there are inevitably jokes about Tom Jones, Richard Burton and sheep, they are never obvious. With a lightness of touch that prevents it ever becoming worthy or self-important, the show goes way further than mere wisecracks to make profound observations about capitalism and national pride.

"The clever use of projected home-video footage of Ffion as a young child adds emotional depth and introduces some visual variety. There’s real subtlety at work here, making it a refreshing and stimulating fifty-five minutes.

“Ffion oozes charm, from the moment she steps on the stage waving a leek to seeming completely taken aback at the well-deserved standing ovation at the end. The quick-wittedness of her delivery – possibly honed through stand-up or improv comedy – is astonishing.

"There’s so much going on, so rapidly...When she slows things down a little, such as for her amusing and oddly touching cover version of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ by Bonnie Tyler, you can really savour the dazzling range of her gifts.

“The staging is minimal, with just three chairs, a microphone stand and a screen. But nothing else is needed: Ffion Jones creates an entire world.”

With thanks, and credits, to the author Stephen Fall and photographer Pete Le May

The full review can be read at:

https://thespyinthestalls.com/2019/02/the-wrong-ffion-jones/

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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