Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Three Plays that Begin with W

Quarterly Critical Round-up

Winners, Wolf and West reviewed , theatre of Wales First Quarter 2020 , January 31, 2020
Quarterly Critical Round-up by Winners, Wolf and West reviewed Those who do the codeword puzzles in the daily press know that the sequence of letters is always the same. K, J, Z and W are the last to reveal themselves. It is unusual then that three plays in a season should have single-word titles that begin with W. But so it was.

“Winners” from Nova Theatre was at the Sherman as part of a “Get It While It’s Hot” season of new plays. Wales Arts Review was there:

“Lowri Jenkins and Oliver Morgan-Thomas playing Cassie and Dafydd, take the stage and the audience is suddenly cast in the role of a couples’ therapist. Jenkins and Morgan-Thomas portray a young couple in their early thirties, trying to find their way in a relationship which has seen little change since it began seventeen years prior. The script, also written by Jenkins, is quick and genuinely funny, with unexpected jokes that twist suddenly to expose deep truths and explosive emotions.

“...Jenkins’ script excellently explores the inner conflict of an ambitious and driven woman...torn between her ambitious personality and what she believes is expected of her as a loving female partner...”Winners” maintains an excellent balance of comedy and drama. Jenkins’ dialogue is fast-paced and the cast play off each other expertly.

“the twists are unexpected yet they don’t jar with the overall plot. Jenkins’ script is carefully crafted and every aspect feels genuine and honest; the play succeeds in being both thoroughly entertaining as well as a piece of thoughtful social commentary.”

The Other Room presented “Wolf” as part of its 2020 Spring Fringe. British Theatre Guide was there.

“Wolf” is the first part of Lewis Doherty's “Beast” trilogy of shows inspired by cult cinema. Sword-and-sorcery-style fantasy adventure Boar plays here later in the week; sci-fi-horror Hawk will première in London in March.

“Wolf had a successful run on the Edinburgh Fringe in 2018, and has toured intermittently in the interim. It takes as its model the kind of low-budget, C-grade pulpy detective movies which filled the shelves of video rental stores in the 1980s and occasionally turn up on lesser television stations in the middle of the night.

“Set in Shadow City, somewhere in the USA, it is the tale of tough cop (or maybe ex-cop) Patrick Wolf, who finds himself investigating the mysterious, supposedly accidental death of his old friend Jay Walker, an even tougher cop. The fact that the story begins with Wolf interrupting a car journey to commit an act of extreme violence already tells us that his suspicions may be well-founded.

“Doherty plays all the roles, his sole prop being a chair. Thus, as we follow Wolf on his journey through the mean streets, we encounter eccentric derelicts, drug-addled Hispanic gangsters, grizzled policemen, naive policemen, unfortunate innocent bystanders and, of course, the urbane crime boss. There's also the small matter of a cyborg ninja, but to say more would constitute a spoiler.

“This show is possibly the epitome of a guilty pleasure, since it pays loving tribute to a body of work which is intentionally trashy. Unlike the bulk of films which inspired it, Wolf is cleverly assembled and highly entertaining.”

“West” was a commission for the United States but played a few atypical venues like Machynlleth's Tabernacl. It was strong on sentiment. “The Review Show” on Radio Wales was warm towards the acting by Gwenllian Higginson and Gareth John Bale. The three reviewers tip-toed with some delicacy around the fact that they did not warm overly to the production overall. In genre terms it was likened to German heimatkunst. Mainly in verse it was, said one, “not really my cup of tea.”

“A play that bills itself as lyrical and poetic is setting itself a challenge, a very challenging remit, especially in Wales.” “A large proportion of the play is in rhyme, full rhyme. I found those parts very difficult to listen to. When combined with a very sentimental narrative, even more so. The opportunities for bathos are many.”

The review was revealing of how it is be a critic within a small population. I might have been at the Tabernacl but chose not be. The reason is that I like and admire the people involved. Affection took precedence over criticism. As it ought.

Edited with thanks. Full reviews at source:

“West” at BBC Sounds, the Review Show

Pictue credit: Lewis Docherty by Geraint Lewis

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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