Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Frida and Diego

At NYTW

National Youth Theatre of Wales , Sherman Theatre Cardiff , September 12, 2003
This award winning production, written and directed by Greg Cullen overwhelms the auditorium with a spectacular array of music, dance, and stunning visuals that encapsulate the senses and challenge the stage to its utmost limits.

The National Youth Theatre of Wales has exceeded expectations and contemplatively exhibited the outstanding talent of each and every member of the cast as well as their ability to work as a unit; a cast and chorus that are entwined, with each role as equally as important as the next - often the unique quality that determines the success of a production.

The set is particularly stunning as both Kahlo and Rivera’s paintings are used in various ways, the most impressive being the transparent picture of ‘Dream of a Sunday afternoon at the Alameda Park’ with the cast adding a third dimension to the picture in a tableaux behind the screen. The Chicago scenes are also visually rich as the cast appear as one big machine as they work, providing a stark contrast to the colourful, blasé life in Mexico. This visual contrast gives the spectator a glimpse into the mind of Kahlo as she battles with Rivera over her hatred of man’s obsession with machine and Rivera’s passion for the big cities – or at least the women that are in them!

This production is particularly unique as it uses both Welsh and English to tell the story. This however, is the only element of the piece that had little significance to the themes or issues raised, the plot or the characters. It did not provide any new information and in comparison to every other aspect of the production which seemed carefully choreographed, it made the production weak in places.

This aside, every other aspect of the performance was stunning. The song and overall effect of the harmonies with the live, on stage orchestra filled the auditorium with an incredible sound that sent a shiver down your spine. The costumes were based on the mythical Mexican ‘Calvera’ figure that haunted Diego, always hopeful that the opportunity to take Frida from him would arise, if only her spirit would give up in the same way her body was trying to. The performances given by such a strong and talented cast were however by far the influencing factor that gave this piece its energy and pace. The Youth Theatre will have a lot of work to do if they plan to top this in their next performance!

Reviewed by: Victoria Cooper

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