Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Spring and Summer Home & Abroad Part One

Quarterly Critical Round-up

Owen Thomas & Gareth Bale, Marc Rees, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Mercury Theatre, National Theatre Wales , Theatre May to September 2023 , October 5, 2023
Quarterly Critical Round-up by Owen Thomas & Gareth Bale, Marc Rees, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Mercury Theatre, National Theatre Wales OWEN THOMAS and GARETH BALE went to the North American Festival of Wales in Lincoln, Nebraska. ‘Grav’ and ‘Carwyn’ earned standing ovations.

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ABERYSTWYTH ARTS CENTRE continued its 50th anniversary with a weekend curated by MARC REES. In the nature of Rees' art different themes were interwoven. They included the land beneath the sea, Cantre'r Gwaelod, and the Women's Peace Petition of 1923.

The programme for “Aberetwm” included a procession around the Angel War memorial and a new concerto part-written and curated by MERERID HOPWOOD with CERYS HAVANA, OWEN SHIERS and Cynefin.

It honoured the “Women of Wales for a World Without War” campaign led by Annie Hughes-Griffiths, Mary Ellis and Elined Prys

EDDIE LADD led a ritual wearing a replica of the lilac jumpsuit worn by Thalia Campbell, active at the Greenham Common protest camp. “Washed Up” was a live performance on Aberystwyth's promenade.

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MERCURY THEATRE WALES toured to the Torch Theatre with “Finding Home”, reprised from 2021 when it played at Cardiff's Depot.

Written by BETHAN MORGAN and directed by LYNNE HUNTER it followed a varied group of characters sharing a fate of being without a home.

Buzz Magazine wrote:

“If you only see one piece of theatre this year, or even this decade, make it Mercury Theatre Wales’ “Finding Home”, a heartbreaking, thought-provoking show about homelessness in the Welsh capital. The play is based on the real experiences and life journeys of people who have experienced homelessness for a variety of reasons and pays tribute to those who have died whilst homeless in the capital. God go I,” as I did. Many of us are just one pay-cheque away from life on the streets.

“The cast is superb, with wonderful performances from the main characters. Bethan Morgan plays the feisty, hard-nosed yet warm-hearted Lola, with a spectacular Kairdiff accent; Nick Hywell is traumatised Bosnian war veteran Cobbit, Rhys Downing’s Henry (aka Baggsy) is a kind, troubled man with mental health problems. Sarah Pugh’s portrayal of Megan, the teenage Valleys girl fleeing sexual abuse in the family, is the rawest and most tragic performance, and sadly utterly believable.

“The final scene sees Megan sing with Mari Izzard, who plays her lost daughter Charlie and is absolutely heart-rending.

“Dance scenes are choreographed beautifully by Sarah Rogers, with music composed by Rowan Talbot (who also plays kind outreach worker Jimmy), and perfectly capture the chaos and trauma of street life – particularly the sequence when Baggsy’s precarious mental health reaches a tipping point as he fails to source food for his friends from a foodbank due to having no fixed address. Through the theatrical telling of intimate and personal stories, Finding Home will draw you into the world of homelessness.”

Full review at:

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The NATIONAL THEATRE OF SCOTLAND performed “Let the Right One In” at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley, California from 20th May to 25th June.

The NATIONAL THEATRE OF WALES performed no public theatre for six months. Some activities for children took place at the Oriel Davies Gallery in Newtown, the Eisteddfod in Boduan, and at Ebbw Vale.

Reviewers and journalists were neither invited nor permitted to attend.

The request from the artistic community across Wales five years ago was simple and not unreasonable. A national theatre company should put on theatre.

As an artistic policy it was rejected by the board under its then Chair SIR CLIVE JONES. The management of the then ARTS COUNCIL OF WALES backed the company management.

The policy that a theatre budget be diverted for widescale non-theatre purposes was continued by the third artistic director LORNE CAMPBELL and the new co-chairs SHARON GILBURD and YVONNE CONNICKIE.

On 27th September the new management at the Arts Council of Wales announced its divergence from its predecessors. The artistic policy of the company meant that its status of revenue funding would be forfeit with effect from April 2024.

This article is taken and compiled from documents in the public domain. Inadvertent error. inaccuracy and items for correction are welcomed.

An assessment of ACW's 51-page document, its implications and reactions will appear at a later time.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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