Theatre in Wales

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Cardiff pub theatre the Other Room has revealed the winner of its inaugural Violet Burns Playwright award, which aims to discover female writers from


The Other Room/in association with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru. , The Other Room , November-06-19
Hela by The Other Room/in association with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru. Hela, the first play by Mari Izzard, the first winner of the Violet Burns Playwright Award, is the third and final work in The Other Room’s VIOLENCE series. Undoubtedly the most violent as it involves a child, child abuse. At the opening of the play we see a man, tied very firmly to a chair, he has been bleeding, he is shouting to be released. At this point we have no idea why he is there and maybe have some sympathy for him but that soon goes as the narrative develops.
This mother, Erin has decided she will take revenge on the abuser of her child herself. She now has him there as her prisoner. The imprisoned, Hugh is played by the ubiquitous Gwydion Rhys. He is a very fine actor, a real joy to watch. Whilst he totally convinces us of the reality of the character he is playing, we retain that Brechtian feeling that we are watching a first class demonstration of the art of acting at work.
His adversary, perfectly acted by Lowri Izzard, strongly captivates us as the deeply troubled mother. We all feel her pain, as she cries out to him to return her child. She speaks to him in Welsh; we get the impression that he cannot understand. For us, an English translation of her words appear on a TV screen. But very quickly as the context of the drama develops we stop looking at the screen and concentrate our attention on these two strong adversaries.
The play is powerfully directed by The Other Room’s Artistic Director, Dan Jones.
The power in these two performances never weakens. We are absorbed into the vigour of their drama as she continues to plead for the return of her son and he for his release. Eventually she does untie him.
They fight furiously, lots of sighing and grunting. Whether one or the other remain alive as the lights go down, we are left to decide for ourselves as this sharp look on the bleak side of life draws to a close.
The Play runs at The Other Room until 16th Nov.
The Violet Burns Award
"I wanted to create this award in memory of a woman who never knew how incredibly talented she was. I know that Mum would be proud that it was helping other young women to reach their full creative potential.”
- Hayley Burns

Photo Mari Izzard

The Other Room will be taking three brand new plays out of its small theatre space and presenting them as an immersive live anthology on stages across Wales and in London, offering audiences the chance to ‘binge’ on the series and experience all three productions together.

THE VIOLENCE SERIES is a trio of dystopian dramas – written by Matthew Bulgo, Tess Berry-Hart and Mari Izzard – set in a world that is familiar but on fire. Commissioned and produced by The Other Room for their Autumn 2019 season, each play explores the themes that divide us and asks profound questions about the darker side of humanity. When does an act become violent? Should we really fight fire with fire? And how far would you go to avoid it?

The tour will take this trio of works – Matthew Bulgo’s American Nightmare, Tess Berry-Hart’s The Story and Mari Izzard’s Hela – to the following venues:

Theatre503, Battersea – 15 th -18 th of January
Ffwrnes, Llanelli – 23 rd -25 th of January
Arad Goch, Aberystwyth – 29 th -31 st of January
Theatr Clwyd, Mold – 6 th -8 th of February
Pontio, Bangor – 12 th -14 th of February

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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