(2.5 / 5)
I was almost a Cardiff Boy. My elder brother is. Unfortunately for myself, in a moment of extreme recklessness my family moved from Cardiff after my brother’s birth and so I became, a Brecon Boy… that was the start of my problems! I have always wanted to be a Cardiff Boy – well, until last evening.
Kevin Jones’s monologue tells the story of an invigorated Testosterone angst-ridden Cardiff teenager and is based partly upon his real-life experience.
Our protagonist is a sensitive artistic lad, existing in the hurly-burly of Welsh laddish behaviour, drunken binging and alpha male aggressiveness. I’ve experienced this myself, although in a slightly different capacity when as a leftish orientated serving police officer, I was out of alignment with the vast majority of my colleagues, united in preserving the status quo. For the sake of fitting in, sometimes I had to say things or act in a way that was naturally alien to me. So, I get our hero’s situation.
Being a typical teenager, he is struggling to find his place in society and lacks self-esteem. Instead he prefers to act as a voyeuristic photographer, surreptitiously sneaking pictures of his mates in varying states of sobriety. With numerous references to Cardiff locations, you are shown that the nature of your social interaction is largely dictated to by your environs.
It is a nostalgic play. Looking back to the 1990’s and in particular the popular music of that period, that reminds us how important that sensory pleasure can influence our life and our relationships with our friends.
The first part of the playlet is the best. Actor Jack Hammett provides a likable, engaging character and he energetically glides around the room engaging members of the audience with direct eye contact. He is able to do this due to the created space being a rather dingy bar setting with tables and chairs located around – a kind of Aberdare’s Moulin Rouge.
Surrounding the room are photographs pegged up – obviously our guy’s work. Lighting is used creatively and overall the direction and design work well enough.
However, where the play falls down is the decline into a more melodramatic second part which leads you to the ultimate destination; that it sometimes it takes a tragedy to discover the meaning and value of friendship.
The dialogue is fairly sharp and there are funny jokes within the script, but despite this and Jack Hammet’s likeable performance, upon reflection you realise that this is rather slight fare.
I must include a caveat here. The nostalgic setting of the 1990’s, (music, early reference to Princess Diana seeking a divorce etc), reminded me that I was in middle age when the action would have taken place. My own experiences of this nature occurred in the 1970’s. So I think I probably have a very different perspective of this play to the rest of the audience on the press night I attended.
This isn’t the first time that I have felt out of place in Caridff Fringe Theatre – the Festival back in the early summer is a case in point. It appears to me that the Cardiff Fringe Theatre scene is created by young people for a young audience. Being part of the London Fringe Theatre for twenty years, I cast my mind back to try to remember if it was the same there in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. I believe that it wasn’t like the situation in Cardiff although admittedly younger people were in the majority. Is it due to the fact that Fringe Theatre is populated by younger people with the energy and creative desire to showcase their work? When they get older, they replace their enthusiasm with a more prosaic approach to life dictated to by the trials and tribulations of growing up, and of course, in many cases raising a family.
This site promotes diversity and all power to it. But, how about diversity in fringe theatre? I have witnessed many an exciting production of classic theatre works on the London Fringe Festival Theatre scene
Red Oak’s “Cardiff Boy” continues showing at The Other Room at Porters in Cardiff until the 11th November.
For ticket’s please visit:-
The play features strong language and adult dialogue.