Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

"Nothing Short of Profound: Sets a New Standard for What Theatre Can Achieve"

Quarterly Critical Round-up

Chippy Lane, Company of Sirens, Dirty Protest, the Sherman , Theatre in Cardiff Winter 2022 , December 16, 2022
Quarterly Critical Round-up by Chippy Lane, Company of Sirens, Dirty Protest, the Sherman CHIPPY LANE: “Right Where You Left Us” was performed at Chapter. It was written by Rebecca Jade Hammond, directed by Chelsey Gillard, designed by Matilda Southcott, lit by Jane Lalljee, music composed by Tic Ashfield, sound design by Chris Laurich

Buzz was there:

“...The central two characters had moved to New York City pre-pandemic, and had found sanctuary in Coney Island – on account of its similarities to Barry Island. With the thrill-seeking rides of these amusement parks a frequently-mentioned motif throughout the play, Right Where We Left Us becomes a rollercoaster in itself, with its dramatic waves of intense emotion followed by cathartic humour...Hammond’s ability to construct a complex narrative in the space of a singular setting was very impressive.”

The review can be read at:

https://www.buzzmag.co.uk/chippy-lanes-right-where-we-left-us-is-a-pandemic-themed-romance-rollercoaster/

* * * *

COMPANY OF SIRENS presented “How My Light is Spent” at Chapter in November. Get the Chance gave it a five-star review.

“Last year, Company of Sirens and Sight Life Wales collaborated on an innovative installation piece called ‘With Eyes Closed’, in which people with sight loss shared stories from their lives. The theatrical space was transformed into a beach, and the performers would unearth a memento from the sand and from their past.

“Their second collaboration, ‘How My Light is Spent’... takes inspiration from the sonnet of the same name by John Milton (author of ‘Paradise Lost’) who lost his own sight around the time of its publication.

“What the creative team has achieved here is nothing short of profound: a level of emotional authenticity and community that sets a new standard for what theatre can achieve.

“...The set, designed by Edwina Williams-Jones, is strewn with autumnal leaves and twigs that crackle underfoot, creating a tactile image of a forest out of time. Sion Berry’s multimedia films, Chris Durnall’s direction and Stacey Blythe’s music are, themselves, sources of light: they guide, encourage and illuminate the performers without turning the attention on themselves. “

Extract from the full review which can be read at:

https://getthechance.wales/2022/11/20/review-how-my-light-is-spent-chapter-by-barbara-hughes-moore/

* * * *

DIRTY PROTEST. “My Mix(ed up) Tape”, written and performed by Katie Payne, with live DJ set by Glade Marie, toured in October to Park & Dare Theatre, Redhouse Merthyr Tydfil , Le Pub Newport, the Grand Pavilion Porthcawl, the Welfare Ystradgynlais, Duffy's Pontypridd, Ffwrnes and the Torch.

Wales Arts Review was there:

“...comedy and impeccable timing of My Mix(ed-Up) Tape is Payne’s depiction of the effects of ADHD on the life of a young woman struggling to find her place in the world. The play, which is being toured during ADHD awareness month, is a stark reminder of exactly why the condition is so misunderstood. Pheobe’s bursts of frenetic energy are countered by the painful side-effects of her chaotic behaviour and the complexity of her relationships with those around her.

“...Payne manages to convey the breathless complexity of that emotional assault through a sequence of movements played out against a track list which matches that changing pace and the sense of a world which is closing in her around her.”

The full review can be read at:

https://www.walesartsreview.org/my-mixed-up-tape-review/

* * * *

SHERMAN: Joe Murphy directed “A Midsummer Night’s Dream “in October with new Welsh language adaptations by Mari Izzard and Nia Morais. The cast included Dena Davies, Leah Gaffey, Sion Ifan, Hannah McPake, Lauren Morais, Tom Mumford , Sion Pritchard and Rebecca Wilson. Members of the Sherman’s non-professional theatre group, Sherman Players, played other Mechanicals.

Others credits included Jac Ifan Moore Associate Director, Branwen Davies Welsh Language Dramaturg, Elin Steele Designer, Eädyth Crawford Composer, Ian Barnard Sound Designer, Andy Pike Lighting and Projection Designer.

Buzz was there:

“What makes this adaptation different from the next is the sprinkle of Welsh magic in the production. The Welsh language is spoken by the fairies and those bewitched by them – with the effect of separating the fairies from the Athenians, and done so brilliantly.

“Modern spoken language is intertwined with the classic Shakespearian tongue...Puck and Bottom arguably stole the show...a shining representation of Welsh theatre.

The review can be read at:

https://www.buzzmag.co.uk/a-midsummer-nights-dream-sherman-theatre-stage-review/

Get the Chance was there:

“Joe Murphy’s joyous reinvention...utterly unique and absolutely unmissable...the set, designed by Elin Steele, an imposing Art Deco amphitheatre of emerald green...Leah Gaffey’s Puck ping pongs about the stage as an impish emcee with charisma to spare while the Mechanicals, led by Hannah McPake’s beleaguered Peter Quince and performed by members of non-professional theatre group the Sherman Player, lend a chaotic charm to their doomed dramatics.”

The review can be read at:

https://getthechance.wales/2022/10/19/review-a-midsummer-nights-dream-sherman-theatre-by-barbara-hughes-moore/

Wales Arts Review was there:

“Leah Gaffey’s Puck enters with a cheerful “Shwmae” and stamps on the stage to get the subtitles flickering hesitantly into life. Welsh is the exclusive language of the fairy characters...a winning coup de theatre in a transformative and cheerfully post-modern production...funny, charming, modern, eye-catching..Highly recommended.”

The review can be read at:

https://www.walesartsreview.org/a-midsummer-nights-dream-
sherman-theatre/

* * * *

The Guardian got to the SHERMAN to see JOE MURPHY directing “Tales of the Brothers Grimm.”

“...We begin in Cardiff in 1913 where young Stevie (Alice Eklund, filling in for Lily Beau) is to spend Christmas with her Lutheran-looking uncles but a storm transports her into the storybook world of the Grimm-dom. As in Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods”, these fairytale characters enact their stories until Stevie interrupts them.

“Cinderella (Katie Elin-Salt) smashes her glass slipper, Rapunzel (Sarah Workman) has her locks cut off and Sleeping Beauty (Bethzienna Williams) is roused awake. Prince Charming (James Ifan), meanwhile, tells of how he was reluctantly turned from a frog into a prince and dreams of going back to his old bog days.

“Writer Hannah McPake’s universe is full of fizzing imagination and delightful rebellion: the characters set off on their own yellow brick road to find the brothers who can fix their broken stories but their quest turns into a tussle for freedom, led by the Snow Queen (also played by McPake), who has liberated herself from Hans Christian Andersen’s world and now wants to liberate this one...some wonderful comedy and storytelling but not every song in Lucy Rivers’ score is memorable although some certainly hit the mark...The imagination in the story is so intelligent that if the pace were tweaked and the performances sharpened, this would have all the makings of a classic.”

From the review which can be read in full at:

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2022/dec/05/tales-of-the-brothers-grimm-review-sherman-theatre-cardiff

Picture: Company of Sirens

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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