Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

True to Form: No Interest from BBC Wales in Theatre Beyond Cardiff

Radio Arts Feature

Get the Chance sees “Pavilion” , Theatr Clwyd , November 3, 2019
Radio Arts Feature by Get the Chance sees “Pavilion” Radio Wales has a magazine programme on the arts. The Arts Show customarily covers three or four topics.

The theatre of Wales has had some large-cast productions this season. Mererid Hopwood has translated Brecht for Theatr Genedlaethol. Theatr na Nog came back to Wales after England and Scotland.

Tamara Harvey, having scooped an Olivier in April, directed a large-cast new play by a writer of Wales. Bethan Marlow has written a script for a cast of 100, but that was also in Mold.

BBC Radio Cardiff- sorry, BBC Radio Wales- deemed these to be of no interest in the culture of Wales. The magazine format was waived in September and the programme did a single 30-minute feature on a single production with a smaller cast.

Admittedly, a Royal Court co-production is an event but it is not new. Gary Owen not so long back was there and he scored an Olivier to boot. That too was ignored by the national broadcaster as a news item.

Long-term observers- and genuine lovers of live performance- know the BBC's editorial policy on theatre coverage. Whatever Clwyd or Bara Caws or Theatr Gen or Hijinx or a dozen other decent companies might achieve, they all rank below National Theatre Wales in the view of the BBC mandiranate.

So too this time when Bangor, Flintshire, Neath put on fine theatre.

My most popular article recently has been on the corrosive effect of friendship on a critical culture. My own guess is that the culture of the Corporation is suffused with friendship for Messrs George and Jones.

Which is human, but not necessarily in alignment with service to the public. This ought to be a subject for discussion. But discussion requires a precondition, that the corporate cultures that govern us embrace the concept that criticism has, per se, a legitimacy to it.

As it was once put:

“You cannot hope to bribe or twist,
Thank God! The British journalist.
But seeing what the man will do unbribed,
There's no occasion to!”

If the media goliath was unable to raise an interest in Wales' sterling theatre, the plucky, self-starter Get the Chance was there to leave its record. It is a nice fulsome review, 659 words in length.

This is the gist in summary. The link to the full review is given below. It has the best effect that real reviews achieve. I truly wish I had been there.

“Emily White’s Pavilion is a sharp and witty ode to small town Wales...Set on a Friday night fuelled with booze and infused with lust, we are witness to the final hours of the Pavilion nightclub before it closes down for good. Here is where the ‘hoi polloi’ gather: girls in their ill-fitting dresses and lads in their best-kept trainers and tracky bottoms. They drink, they dance; they dream, they despair. There is laughter and tears, love and loss.

"Not since Jack Thorne’s “Junkyard” have I felt such affinity for a cast of characters. They resemble a microcosm of my own home town. White’s great strength in this production has been to create drama out of the mundane, the everyday. She does so through the innocuous language of routine conversation, cadenced with humour and pathos behind which lies a depth of emotion and meaning. It leads to an immediate investment in her characters and their story. They are recognisable, relatable. We see in them something of ourselves and those around us. Theirs is a fully functioning, wholly believable world.

“Annelie Powell deserves huge credit for assembling such a fine cast. It features some of the best in both upcoming and established Welsh talent. Director Tamara Harvey is no doubt the reason for the strong onstage chemistry between them. It is becoming a regular feature in her productions.

"The result is a thoroughly impressive ensemble piece, in which the professional debut of Caitlin Drake goes unchecked such is her striking turn as Myfanwy. Lowri Hamer (Bethan) and Carly-Sophia Davies (Jess) already appear like seasoned actors such is the strength of their performances alongside the reputable Ifan Huw Dafydd (Dewi) and Tim Treloar (Dylan). The dialogue between Michael Geary (Evan) and Victoria John (Big Nell) fizzes off the page. A special mention must go to Ellis Duffy (Gary) who is simply sublime as Gary.

“...Come the end, the audience sat in stunned silence, the darkness sustained for much longer than I have ever experienced before. This tells you all you need to know about the power of this play. Once you have entered into the world of Pavilion, you won’t want to leave. Emily White deserves the rambunctious applause that finally spilled out into the auditorium. She has freely admitted that with its large cast and herself an unknown writer, Tamara Harvey has taken a huge gamble with Pavilion. It is one that has paid off. It may have taken time for it to see the light of day, but it is now unlikely to be returning to the shelf any time soon.”

Source, cited with thanks, at

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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