Theatre in Wales

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High Comedy from Scotland

Wales at Edinburgh Fringe

Square Go- Francesca Moody , Roundabout @ Summerhall , August 27, 2018
Wales at Edinburgh Fringe by Square Go-  Francesca Moody "Square Go" is as Scottish as they come. But it has a connection, if of slightness, to Wales. Producer Francesca Moody is an actor graduate from RWCMD.

There is not enough comedy about across Wales. It is a pity because laughter is a common language. Frank Vickery was a sizeable presence but he was big in his own area. Frapetsus in recent times has been able to fill theatres from Colwyn Bay to Cardiff. But the logic of support runs that if a company can tour to good-sized venues then it does not need public subsidy. But Wales has a deficit of commercial producers.

That is not how it is elsewhere. The National Theatre of Scotland has “My Left Right Foot” - see 18th August- with audiences rollicking over its cheekiness. The National Theatre in England has long been a happy home for laughter. Sam Holcroft's “Rules for Living” was both funny and formally inventive. Not a spare seat is to be had this summer for “Home, I'm Darling.”

The stamp in history of Calvin was similar across Scotland and Wales. It has lost its part in the culture of the first; its feels as if it echoes on in the second. Two playwrights of the same generation once made impacts with a trilogy of plays in another century. John Byrne, born 1940, is revived and Alan Osborne, born 1942, is not.

Two comedies are running at Fringe venues which in normal days are fine buildings devoted to serious scientific work. I was at the Scottish production, but not at the Welsh, “the Dip”. The reason was that “Square Go” shares a venue with Theatr Clwyd, Dirty Protest and the Sherman. The Summerhall marketers use the wall by the queue to post blow-up reviews of all their shows. Of Milk and Blood I knew nothing. (See “Blue Scar” August 22nd.)

Paines Plough's geodesic dome venue has a capacity of over 200 and on a Saturday night they were squeezing them in. “Square Go” is co-authored by two rising names in the theatre of Scotland, Gary McNair and Kieran Hurley. Scott Fletcher and Gavin Jon Wright play Max and Stevie. Their performances, with Finn den Hertog at the directorial helm, burst over with energy and physical glee. As if primed for a sporting match they have us chanting their names. An audience member is lured into the ring for a spot of arm-wrestling.

“Square Go” has considerable contributions from Frightened Rabbit’s soundtrack and Peter Small’s lighting. But beneath the exuberance Hurley and McNair have motored their play with a genuine emotion. Proper comedy needs danger to it and Max is in a state of anticipatory fear. He and Stevie are aged 13. Swathes of reviewers have descended on “Square Go”. None have mentioned the message that Hurley and McNair have threaded in. Young men who lack adults in their formative lives are left bereft. They suffer, say the authors, from the deficit.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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