Theatre in Wales

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National Theatre Wales- Storm 1- Nothing Remains the Same , Pafiliwn Pontrhydfendigaid , February 18, 2018
At National Theatre by National Theatre Wales- Storm 1- Nothing Remains the Same Good criticism spans four levels. It homes in on detail. It knows its aesthetics, confident in judgement on form, content, meaning, expression. It has to hand facts that matter, context and history. And it is unabashed in a response that is personal.

Gary Raymond was in Pontrhydfendigaid for a production that is boldly the first of a series of six unveiled by National Theatre of Wales. There is a last quality of good criticism, to embody the qualities of art itself, surface sheen, form, internal architecture. Raymond's thousand vibrant words for Wales Arts Review surf the levels that are the hallmarks of trenchant criticism.

In selection:

Homing in on detail- “The normally wonderful Aimee Ffion-Edwards, however, is less convincing as the narrator of the second half. Her voice offers a pleasing contrast, a bit of light to Pearson’s antediluvian seriousness, but it also lacks a certain conviction.

“Edwards improves as she goes on, but the suspicion, amidst a few mispronounced words and misplaced emphasis, that a couple more runs in the recording booth and she would have nailed it.”

The aesthetic judgement- “is it theatre?...There is no real catharsis, no revelation, no climax. Just the black canvas. Artistically, the idea of the void is a rich one, not an empty one. It is all very well to play with an idea, but it needs a deeper plunge of the dagger to be more than just a theme park ride...Storm 1, however, excites initially, the powerful darkness drawing us in to pre-Big Bang nothingness, but after some time, as the narrative describes all sorts of cosmic drama, from the birth of the universe to the birth of gods and men, the darkness remains.”

Fact and context- “Storm 1 takes very roughly the first two books of Ovid’s Metamorphoses as its template, cramming in origin myths and floods and Edens too, and it might have done better to have used elements of Charles Martin’s peerless translation. Where the Storm 1 script fails most pointedly is in attempts to capture the rambunctiousness of Ovid. Every time Pearson’s narration slips from the gargantuan posing of celestial verse into something more irreverent and conversational, it jars.”

Personal response- “The truth is that by the end, very little of the story remains, only the memory of the blackness..Is Storm 1 theatre? Well, just because it was in a big empty space and forces us to stare at a burning tree for ten minutes still doesn’t make it much more than an audiobook, I’m afraid.”

Full review at:

Picture credit: Mark Douet

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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