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101 Nights to Remember

Thirteen Years a Reviewer , Theatre of Wales , May 18, 2020
101 Nights to Remember by Thirteen Years a Reviewer Commemorations run regularly; the First World War, Dylan Thomas, the Mimosa.

Theatr Genedlaethol did the best in Wales for the 2012 Shakespeare year.

Theatr Clwyd appears regularly in this list in its own right. It also acted as a three-way co-producer for Lucy Rivers' slice of gig-theatre.

From “Sinners Club”, Gagglebabble, the Other Room & Theatr Clwyd, Soho, 2017

“In Dean Street, sixty-two years on, a whippet of a drummer is laying down a torrent of rhythm. He is Paolo Adamo and is joined by Dan Messore's lead guitar and Aidan Thorne on bass. The Soho Theatre has two performance spaces. “Sinners Club” plays at the top of the building,. The space is not large, painted in black, but Mark Bailey's design has given it pertinent details, four worn rugs, a recording booth, microphones, a quaint drink trolley laden with spirits. This was not an age for prosecco. Katy Morison's lighting in the small space darts between the light and the dark in a way that mirrors the life of Ruth Ellis.

“Lucy Rivers enters with the lights going down. With hair scooped high she wears a leopard skin coat and high-heeled boots of patent leather. Ear-rings are the size of a ten pence coin. The music is anthemic with a tinge of blues running through. Later the band swaps instruments for mandolin and tambourine. Lucy Rivers plays fiddle and wears a stetson and fringed jacket all in white. It is time for some Country and Western. But the number is an exception; in the main it is music of power serving a big voice of power...Titus Halder, a name with a record at the Other Room, directs...If categories needs to be made then “Sinners Club” is bio-gig-theatre. Performance that bites needs a theme that matters.”

From “Siwan”, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, Aberystwyth, 2008

“Playing to a packed house Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru’s production of Saunders Lewis’ 1954 “Siwan” opens on a note of great visual beauty. Maid Alys (Lisa Jen Brown) glides across a black stage to the accompaniment of delicately amplified strings and choral voice, in her hand a burning taper. At floor level she then lights nine candles. If director Judith Roberts were in the wings or auditorium she would have known she had the audience in her hands. Not a sneeze, not a shuffle is to be heard over the ensuing one and three quarter hours, played without interval...the gravity of the play falls on the long third act confrontation between Llywelyn Fawr and Siwan. Ffion Dafis and Dyfan Roberts hold the stage with strong, assured classical acting; to act so convincingly regal is a considerable achievement.

“Visually Colin Falconer’s set uses an eight-foot high mirror running transversely across the stage. Indicative of the enclosedness of the life of the powerful, it brings a concentration of light and focus to the stage action. Add in the mesmerising soundscape by composer Jay Greave and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru has a proud addition to their track record, a production that brought the audience out in spontaneous cheering.”

From “Y Storm”, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, United Counties Showground, Carmarthen, 2012

“Director Elen Bowman, designer Naomi Dawson and costume designer Iona Williams have created a colour schema that starts similarly muted and gradually explodes across the spectrum. When Llion Williams’ Prospero makes his entry he is in dark trousers, white shirt and braces. He and Lisa Marged’s spirited Miranda might easily have walked into the performance tent from the Carmarthenshire of a couple of generations ago. The island atmosphere shifts with the arrival of Meilir Rhys Williams’ white-faced, balletic Ariel. He and his trio of spirits- Bridey Doyle-Roberts, Ceri Angharad Rimmer and Claire Crook- are in loose tops and red-striped socks. They unwind on ropes fifteen feet above the performance space. The inspired concept for this Shakespeare has been for Theatr Genedlaethol to join artistically with Citrus Arts. “The participation of Citrus reaches a high in the scene of celebration in honour of Ferdinand and Miranda. There are harps and masks of gold. A hat is covered in fruit. Sparklers ignite, a magical figure spins a hoop of fire. The scene is an ecstasy of movement, played out on ground and in the air, and then suddenly it is all gone.

“There is a sense of comic rootedness to the performances of Sion Pritchard and Hugh Thomas as Steffano and Trinculo. Tellingly, they start in tartan trousers and yellow sou’wester and end in gaudy frills. They are a contrast in a production that forcefully invokes all the elements. The circus space has a floor of sand. Kai Owen’s Caliban is caked in earth. A mid-space curtain has projections of a swirl of current around coastal rocks. It is not the tideless Mediterranean of the play’s location but the relentless beat of the Irish Sea. Llion Williams has grown a beard and moustache but his lean figure is less aged patriarch than a severe, pacing ringmaster. He keeps a whip in his waistband. At the close he dons a greatcoat and paisley scarf and yields up the whip. Early on, we have seen how the ropes that hold the spirits on high can also become literally the ties that bind. Gwydion Rhys has had a remarkable twelve months by any standard. Sensitivity in silence is a part of his achievement here...James Doyle-Roberts is circus director, Liz Ranken movement director. Katharine Williams' lighting turns the island into zones of light and murk...“The isle is full of noises” indeed. The haunting sounds and beats are the work of composers Lucy Rivers and Dan Lawrence.”

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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