Theatre in Wales

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Quarterly Critical Round-up

Audience Restrictions plus Theatr Genedlaethol on Tour , Theatre August to October , October 28, 2021
Quarterly Critical Round-up by Audience Restrictions plus Theatr Genedlaethol on Tour Performance is mirror to the world. So it has reflected the way we were in this period as summer moved to autumn. The hunger for experience, to feel human and social again, found its balance against the instinct for caution.

Theatre, under varying jurisdictions, worked itself out in different ways. The illustration, taken 16th October, was one theatre's response, presented as a two-metre poster on its outside wall.

The commercial theatre needed every last seat that could be sold. The torrents of red ink that the pandemic have created have been vast. The major theatre groups instituted a rule of no entry without immunisation or test result. The polling data is consistent; the great majority of the vaccinated are comfortable in the presence of the fellow vaccinated.

“The Last Five Years”, which memorably toured in Wales by LEEWAY in 2018, was revived in a theatre with an eight hundred seat capacity. The casting of Oli Hutchinson attracted a ninety percent capacity audience. To be there felt more than good, it had wonder to it.

It should be added that entry was via a quick human-eye check. In France, by contrast, every cafe, every campsite has required electronic validation.

Most venues have not required that their ticket-holders bring evidence of vaccination, test or past infection. Many theatres have cut capacity while allowing unchecked access. The Kiln in London has reduced its audience to 170. The Theatre Royal in Plymouth is one among several to separate its performances into distanced and non-distanced. It is a solution to accommodate audiences of different sensibilities.

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Others, like the Finborough or the Hampstead, have installed temperature checking before admission. ABERYSTWYTH ARTS CENTRE, its management ever nimble with its wide offering of arts events, has worked out a hybrid model. Different events invite audiences of different scale. A crowd-puller- Rhod Gilbert or Goldie Looking Chain, or Dreadzone in the summer- is in need of special measures. In other cases the algorithms in the booking software generate distanced seating allocations. It is a good solution that satisfies performers, local authority, university- and us.

* * * *

The autumn programme included THEATR GENEDLAETHOL with a second post-peak-precaution tour.

“Anfamol” by RHIANNON BOYLE, played at the SHERMAN, below 21st October, and went on to Pontio, Galeri, Mwldan, Taliesin, Aberystwyth, Ffwrnes and the Stiwt at Rhosllanerchrugog. The production, in association with the Sherman, gathered a strong team. Sara Lloyd directed, Amy Jane Cook designed, Katy Morison did lighting, Dyfan Jones was composer and sound designer, Deborah Light was movement director. Bethan Ellis Owen and Gwawr Loader were the actors.

Wales Arts Review was there:

“Anfamol, a co-production of Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru and the Sherman Theatre, chooses a messier but more dramatically rewarding path that delves deep into the difficulties of pregnancy, parenthood and post-natal depression as a single mother. Rhiannon Boyle, who recently authored dark comedy “Kill Me Now” for Dirty Protest Theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe, serves a similar mixture of shadow and light through the story of Ani.

“... As well as determining the form of the drama, Covid has also shaped its content. It is a highly significant element in Boyle’s script and the catalyst for Ani’s mental deterioration. While stories featuring the pandemic will no doubt eventually become tired, its incorporation here feels fresh and necessary, highlighting its tendency to make pre-existing social and personal problems far worse.... Bethan Ellis Owen carries the show with ease...populates the space with a range of different characters, including smug new mothers, tactless family members and socially awkward medical professionals.

“Boyle invests her protagonist with a spiky sense of humour that serves numerous dramatic ends – highlighting her charm, defensiveness and vulnerability all at once, but also keeping the audience entertained. While there are plenty of funny moments throughout, the play becomes more challenging and difficult as it continues... “Anfamol” charts the challenges of contemporary single motherhood in a manner that is fearlessly forthright and often very funny...descriptions of postnatal depression that are devastatingly grim in their honesty.”

Links for Theatr Genedlaethol

https://www.walesartsreview.org/anfamol-theatre/

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2021/oct/01/anfamol-review-sherman-theatre-rhiannon-boyle

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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