Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

At Theatr Clwyd

Clwyd Theatr Cymru- Stone City Blue , Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff , November 26, 2004

Watching Clwyd Theatr Cymru’s Stone City Blues is rather like viewing a piece of modern art – you’ll either love it or hate it, it’s completely open to interpretation and it helps if you know the intentions behind the piece before watching it.

The first play from acclaimed Cardiff-based Ed Thomas in several years takes place inside one man’s head, with four actors portraying the different element of his personality – although if you didn’t know that beforehand it’d take you a while to figure it out.

Richard Harrington, Nia Roberts, Ryland Teifi and Alys Thomas are the four young Welsh actors who each play an element of Ray’s personality, agreeing and disagreeing with each other, re-living past conversations and generally trying to understand how and why Ray has found himself in a Cardiff hotel with a passport that isn’t his and blood on his clothes. He may or may not have murdered his wife, she could be pregnant by someone else, he might be on drugs or suffering from some kind of post-traumatic stress and amnesia – whatever, this is an innovative drama that stretches its audience and challenges their preconceptions of what is and isn’t real.

The whole experience is an invigorating and mentally exhausting journey beginning with a loud, floor-trembling whirring before racing through a dream-like stream of consciousness that features flashbacks from various points in Ray’s life. Some of the writing is a little clichéd – the musings on Cardiff once being the educational equivalent of Siberia being a prime example, as well as the gratuitous use of obscenities and graphic sex talk – and it could do with losing a good 15 minutes or so from the running time, but Thomas is a playwright that knows his predominantly young audience and what excites them.

Stone City Blue is by no means perfect, but it’s an innovative work that pushes boundaries. If this comeback piece is the sign of things to come from Thomas, then the future looks very promising indeed.

Until November 27 (029 2030 4400)

Reviewed by: Cathryn Scott

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