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Review Exodus, Motherlode by Edward Lee

Exodus follows Mary (Gwenllian Higginson), the disillusioned manager of her local River Island, who alongside her old schoolmate Gareth (Berwyn Pearce), mute violinist Kujtim (Karim Bedda), and middle-aged ex-serviceman Raymond “Raymondo” Jenkins (Liam Tobin), decide to fly away from it all in an old plane Raymond’s keeping in his allotment.

From the get-go, one of the most immediately engaging qualities of Exodus is the sheer exuberance of the cast. Their emotion across both jovial and sombre scenes was contagious by the sheer energy and precision given to each movement and utter of punctuation in Rachael Boulton’s direction of her own script. Indeed, one of the greatest strengths here is the timing of the piece and its performances, the sense of rhythm and punch in the work being palpable. While the level of energy here can occasionally be overbearing, with Pearce and Tobin’s performances remaining distracting until some more sincere moments later in the play, the three speaking parts are effectively counteracted by Bedda’s pinpointedly monolithic performance as Kujtim.

As the play progresses, Boulton’s script settles into a familiar mix of scene types, with the piece consisting of a rigidly separated pattern of traditional multi-character dialogue scenes, purely physical theatre scenes, and lengthy monologues given by each character. While certain comedic scenes drag on somewhat, and I found some of the physical theatre to be removing time from what could have been the progression of Exodus’s genuinely engaging characters, the pattern in scene construction here keeps the play fresh and varied to prevent these issues from fully manifesting.

It is in the play’s many monologues where the writing, direction and performances truly shine, with characters reflecting on their pasts and expressing topics as varied as their passion for the Valleys, and disenchantment with modern society. While these moments present character reveals rather than any overt sense of interaction or progression, the writing is handled with a deftness which effortlessly blends personal histories with wider societal commentary and various thematic samplings. Indeed, the monologue format is subverted in one of the piece’s most powerful moments, a violin solo by Kujtim which acts as much as an elegiac cry as any of the spoken word monologues given by the other cast members.

Ultimately, it is the blend of such subtly sorrowful moments with the sense of abundant joy, personality and hopefulness elsewhere which truly lifts Exodus off the ground. I was lucky enough to meet Rachael Boulton and hear about both her approach to the piece and her plans for the future of the Motherlode Theatre Company. With Exodus’ strong ties to community, creativity and opportunity being thoroughly present in Boulton and Motherlode’s aims ahead, this is a piece and group well worth seeking out and supporting.

The production is currently on tour

News:The Insole Court Book Club

The Insole Court Book Club is a monthly book club that specifically explores a diverse range of authors, for those who want to discover something new. The book club is a friendly and social club, where we can get together to discuss the book (even if you haven’t finished it, life is too short to read a book that you don’t enjoy!) have a glass of wine or coffee in beautiful surroundings, and meet other readers.

Insole Court will be offering alcoholic beverages for sale, and I will provide a range of hot drinks.

Where?

The Reading Room, Insole Court, Cardiff, CF5 2LN. There is plenty of free parking on site, access for cars and pedestrians is on Fairwater Road. Further details can be found here.

When?

The last Tuesday of every month, 7 – 9pm.
The first book club meeting will be Tuesday 30th October.

Who?

The book club is open to anyone who is interested in getting involved. The book club will be hosted by myself Kelly Barr (Offbeat Book Club).

Anyone can read-along and join in the conversation on my blog, where I will post a summary after event club meeting, so even if you can’t come to the club meetings, you can still get involved.

How?

If you’d like to come along to the first session, please just let me know via reply email.offbeatbookclub@gmail.com

 

Americanah by Chimamanada Ngozi Adichie is available at the Insole Court Visitor Centre shop, widely available in book stores and local libraries and on Amazon here.

If you have any trouble finding the book, please let me know and I will source one for you.

Thanks again for your interest and I look forward to welcoming you to the club!

Kelly Barr

Review Exodus, Motherlode by Judi Hughes

 

Suspend your disbelief and fly Exodus airways

(4 / 5)

Motherlode are a relatively new theatre company, directed by writer and dramatist Rachael Boulton. After training in London, she says “coming back home is the best thing I ever did”, her connection to and understanding of Valleys life in Wales is reflected in their new play Exodus.

The work shows us life on two levels – one of four very different people, drawn together by circumstance, who bravely take the chance to escape everyday Valleys life to go to Cuba in a light aircraft (don’t expect realism here!) and the more detailed experience of the female character, a manager in Peacocks whose main job is to discipline, hire and fire people in the shop. In true Valleys style she describes how, in between family crises, she tries to keep her own job and do it well. On orders from above she has the difficult task of disciplining a woman who is clearly on the edge and this doesn’t end well for either of them.

Exodus is a devised work, developed by the whole team under Rachael Boulton’s directions. Because of that and because they are genuinely skilled performers, the actors quickly inhabit their roles and are able to make their ridiculous ambition to fly to Cuba, using the local high street as a runway, almost believable. Each has their own story to tell, conveyed with humour, energy and a solo violin.

With underlying serious issues about the struggles and problems of working class Valleys people, Rachael Boulton and her team have created a funny, clever, relevant and thought provoking piece of theatre that strikes a chord with its audience; a reaction that can be heard in their laughter and the warmth of their response. With just a few tweaks, it could enjoy the success of its predecessor The Good Earth.

The strong Valleys accent of Mary meant that I sometimes missed words so although very important, it could be toned down slightly. If there is other criticism to be had, for me it was the programme. Whilst presented in a clever format, it wasn’t easy to read with small print and colours that are difficult to discern for people with sight impairment. There was also scant information on the company’s website about the cast and the background to the show. I’d really like to know the full backstory to Exodus and the ambitions of Motherlode. Oh and if you’re going to use stage smoke, do it properly or not at all – the intermittent wisps that I presume were meant to represent clouds didn’t do anything except distract.

Motherlode is supported by RCT Theatres and was created and performed at the Coliseum, Aberdare as part of their 80th anniversary celebrations. In my opinion this is the best way forward for local theatres, to support their own and create strong Welsh drama, already internationally renowned and requiring constant investment. Their support of Motherlode should be applauded and I hope that the Arts Council of Wales, who helped to fund this show, are able to give the company much more support in the future.

Exodus is not laugh-out-loud like a Frank Vickery play, but it does have echoes of the same concern and observation of the lives of Valleys people; their humour, their frustrations, their sorrow and their sheer resilience and ambition that lifts them out of their everyday lives. Hopefully a new generation of theatre goers will be able to appreciate it and fill the theatres like Frank did. Suspend your disbelief and climb aboard Exodus airways, it’s better than Easyjet!

The production is currently on tour and more information can be found here

Review by Judi Hughes

News : Frankenstein, Cascade Dance Theatre, Welsh Language and English Language Audio Information

 

Celebrating 200 years since the publication of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece; Cascade breathes new life into a story that has become so much more to us than its 19th Century origins. Visceral and engaging, Cascade’s production brings to the stage all the potency, drama and tragic inevitability that has made the original novel beloved of generation after generation.

We all know Frankenstein; the tale of the monster made of and by man. A cautionary tale, a creation story, an outsider story…a love story. This November, a new Frankenstein is born as a company of six performers and two musicians bring to life Artistic Director Phil Williams’ compelling new adaptation of the ultimate gothic fantasy.

Live music will continue to play a pivotal role in the Company’s work with original composition and performance by Jak Poore (Theatr na nÓg, David Walliams’“Gangster Granny” & “Awful Auntie”) and Ben Parsons (Cherry Ghost, Arctic Monkeys, BBC and Sky TV). Set and costume will come from Paul Shriek (Ballet Boyz, WNO, NDCWales). Cascade Dance Theatre brings its latest creation FRANKENSTEIN, to the touring circuit in Autumn 2018.

This exciting new production delves into the dark world created 200 years ago by Mary Shelley. Artistic Director Phil Williams returns after his successful tour in Autumn 2016, heading a team of international collaborators in a bicentennial celebration of Shelley’s gothic masterpiece.

Every performance of Frankenstein will feature open captioning for D/deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audience members.

FRANKENSTEIN TOUR DATES 2018

1st Nov Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea.

6th Nov Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Aberystwyth

9th Nov Ffwrnes, Llanelli

10th Nov Torch Theatre, Milford Haven

13th Nov Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon

17th Nov Blackwood Miners Institute, Blackwood

20th Nov Borough Theatre, Abergavenny

23rd Nov Neuadd Dwyfor, Pwllheli

24th Nov Galeri, Caernarfon

29th 30th Nov and 1st Dec Chapter, Cardiff

 

Theatr Dawns Cascade mewn cyd-gynhyrchiad â Chanolfan y Celfyddydau Taliesin
yn cyflwyno
Frankenstein

“It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils…”

I ddathlu dauganmlwyddiant cyhoeddi campwaith Mary Shelley, mae Cascade yn cyfleu agweddau newydd ar hanes sy’n golygu mwy o lawer inni heddiw na chwedl wreiddiol y 19eg ganrig.

Mae cynhyrchiad angerddol nwydus Cascade yn ail-greu’n rymus ddramatig ar lwyfan ddatblygiad anochel anffawd sydd wedi sicrhau lle i’r nofel wreiddiol yn ein calonnau, genhedlaeth ar ôl cenhedlaeth.

Rydym i gyd yn gyfarwydd â stori Frankenstein, anghenfil a grëwyd o ddyn, o waith dyn. Chwedl rybuddiol, hanes creadigaeth, stori am ddieithryn… stori serch.

Ym mis Tachwedd fe gaiff Frankenstein newydd ei eni wrth i gwmni o bum perfformiwr a dau gerddor anadlu bywyd i mewn i addasiad cymhellgar y Cyfarwyddwr Artistig Phil Williams o’r ffantasi gothig benigamp hon.

Cefnogir gan Gyngor Celfyddydau Cymru, Llywodraeth Cymru a’r Loteri Genedlaethol, gyda chefnogaeth ychwanegol gan Ganolfan y Celfyddydau Aberystwyth, Tŷ Cerdd a Creu Cymru.

Y Daith: www.cascadedancetheatre.co.uk

Review Dick Johns – Let’s Talk About Death, Baby, Chapter Arts Centre by Hannah Lad

Dick Johns presents ‘Let’s Talk about Death Baby’ in the Seligman Theatre at Chapter Arts Centre. The show is presented in a cabaret style with audience sat around tables to be brought in to Dick’s story of football, bandannas and space hoppers.

The piece is honest and raw, a story very personal to the performer and writer Dick Johns. It follows the parts of his childhood/life relating to his father as the story is about the passing of his father. It is presented in fragments of Dick’s life, all these fragments relating to life and death. Stories about personal belongings and their value after you are gone.

The story was a little bit of magic because Dick performed with such truth that the audience were with him every step of the way, feeling like they were in the car on the way to West Wales or having a hidden cigarette out of the bathroom window. There were also lovely moments where we got brought in to his story where we put on football stickers or bandannas, and shared laughs about that.

My favourite part of the performance was when we got to speak to Dick through the generations to get a real sense of the performer. This show had brilliant heart, laughs and some tears. But overall it was an incredibly enjoyable and comforting story, about a topic people avoid talking about.

I thoroughly enjoyed this show and highly recommend it.

This production can be seen at Chapter Arts Centre until Thursday the 27th of September.

Hannah Lad      

Preview Decolonising Environmentalism by Yasmin Begum 

In a fitting location near the banks of the river Taff, the groundbreaking “Decolonising Environmentalism” will be taking place in one of Wales’ most diverse and multicultural communities, Grangetown. It’s a film screening of Thank You For the Rain, Q+A discussion and a community meal with invited speakers organised and programmed by gentle/radical headed by local artist Rabab Ghazoul.

Thank You For the Rain is a multi-award winning film directed by Julie Dar. Kisilu, a Kenyan farmer, records and documents the experiences his life, community and his family- and the effect that climate change is happening on their lives. A chance meeting between the director and Kisilu changes a few things: but you’ll have to watch and find out what happens.

 

Decolonisation isn’t something typically discussed in every day Wales and neither is environmentalism. In fact, we focus on equality, and diversity: but decolonisation remains a little-uttered word in Wales until gentle/radical’s recent innovative work such as the frequent (and well frequented) Imagination Forums. It’s definitely a radical event its vision in that it’s radically different to anything anyone’s ever done before, and it’s this radical vision that has been met with success in the nation’s capital.

 

Environmentalism and decolonisation have huge impacts and implications in Wales- just look at the recent conversation on the tidal lagoon in Swansea, the legacies of post-industrialisation or the environmental racism of gentrification in Cardiff city (and beyond). gentle/radical’s work has grown to accommodate a need in the city for diverse and innovative programming for Cardiff city as it so rapidly grows. It’s the second people’s symposium following the phenomenally successful “Death of Distance” that saw Amrit Wilson and others discuss the legacies of the Balfour Declaration and the Partition India.

 

Gentle/radical will be bringing Joshua Virasami from Black Lives Matter, Sakina Sheikh from Platform London, Suzanne Dhaliwal from UK Tar Sands Network, Asad Rehman from War on Want to explore the connections between topics such as environmentalism, race, power and colonialism.

 

The event will be taking place at the Shree Kutchi Leva Patel Samaj Cardiff in Grangetown this Saturday 1st July 2018. Tickets are £15 for fully waged people, £10 for partially waged people, £5 for unemployed people and they’re likely to sell out before the weekend. Tickets are free for asylum seekers. Book your tickets here

 

Review The Dress Rehearsal, Felix and Sam by Martin Patterson

 

(4 / 5)

 

The Cardiff Fringe has enjoyed a nice drag contingent as of late- for the past couple of years we’ve seen drag nights, street parties at Mary’s, as well the delightful Felix and Sam (among others!) at the launch party, and with a bonafide show of their own on the roster. And what a lovely show it was.

I’ve always been a little terrified of drag- I’m very much a cardigan-and-corduroy queer, so the noise, the glitz and bombast has always made me a little hesitant to attend such shows. ‘What better introduction’, I’ll pretend I thought for the purpose of this review, ‘Than a structured show to get a taste of what it’s all about?’ I’m ever so happy to report that my fears were allayed, and we came away with nothing but praise for this wonderful offering.

The normally cavernous foyer of the Sherman Theatre had been transformed into an intimate cabaret setting (side note: they’re also stocking beers from local brewery Mad Dog, who make an extraordinary New Zealand Pale), ready to explode into a supremely entertaining hour of songs, laughs, costume changes, magic and thankfully minimal audience participation (outside of the many roars of laughter heard throughout the show).

Our titillating titular stars emerge to perform a rousing rendition of Puttin’ on the Ritz, before the first of many of Felix’s costume changes. Don’t think that Sam has nothing to offer in the fashion department- we are treated to a fantastic onstage costume change from him that I’m loath to spoil (it’s far, far more than just putting on a new shirt!). Both are living up to the opening number, dressing an re-dressing throughout the evening, treating us to a fantastic array of dresses and suits. It’s a feast for the eyes that’s matched by a bewitching soundtrack, with plenty of musical hits to keep my partner happy, as well as The Dresden Dolls’ Coin Operated Boy, which I had a lovely time with. The piece gains momentum throughout the evening until the grand finale, replete with the most extraordinary suit jacket I’ve ever seen accompanying a wondrous fan dance. Both Felix and Sam were approachable after the show, which is always welcome- it’s great to enjoy performers both on and off stage, and both have a wit and geniality that makes them great company on either side of the playing space.

The Dress Rehearsal is a wonderful hour of entertainment, with a wide range of different set pieces to delight the audience, but therein lies my personal gripe with the show- and what a small gripe it is! I’m a huge proponent of character development in all its forms, particularly within the narrative of a structured performance. I would have loved to have seen a little more of just who Felix and Sam are- this is pure conjecture based on their blurb in the Fringe brochure reminding me of Tim Foley’s blistering backstage opus The Goddess of Walnuts, and does not detract from the delectable cabaret that was offered unto us. Perhaps one day we will enjoy a vaudevillian evening of talent bolstering a deeper narrative. Until then, I’m more than content to enjoy clapping along to the songs, laughing at the jokes, being impressed by the magic and enjoying the good-natured bickering between the two.

If The Dress Rehearsal is Felix and Sam in a nutshell, then let’s hope that we’ll see them take root and grow into something even more magical soon.

 

Get the Chance Win at Action on Hearing Loss Cymru, Excellence Wales Awards.

Pictured left to right,  Rebecca Woolley, Director, Action on Hearing Loss Cymru, Get the Chance volunteer Helen Joy and Maggie Hampton, Trustee, Action on Hearing Loss Cymru.

Get the Chance were recently announced winners at the Action on Hearing Loss, Excellence Wales Awards 2018. The Awards were presented by ITV Wales news reporter Megan Boot at the St David’s Hotel, Cardiff, on 4 May, 2018.

Get the Chance won the Excellence in Arts and Entertainment, Fewer than 30 employees category.

The awards are an opportunity to celebrate organisations in Wales that make themselves accessible to people who are deaf or have hearing loss. This includes making services truly available and/or ensuring that opportunities in the workplace are open to all.

On accepting the award on behalf of Get The Chance volunteer critic Helen Joy said,

Its an absolute privilege to represent an organisation which simply treats people as people. Get the Chance gives all of us the opportunities to develop our skills and our confidence; and find our voices in a safe, encouraging environment. 

It’s about encouraging all of us to concentrate on what we can do, not what we can’t. For me, Get the Chance has shown me that I can change, that I do have a voice and that it matters.”

If you are interested in joining Get the Chance or supporting our work please email getthechance1@gmail.com

Get the Chance in the running to be named Wales’ most deaf friendly organisation.

 

Get the Chance in the running to be named Wales’ most deaf friendly organisation.

Get the Chance is in the running to be named as one of Wales’ best organisations for being accessible to deaf people.

The shortlist has been announced for the Excellence Wales Awards 2018 – the annual awards run by Action on Hearing Loss Cymru.

The charity’s awards recognise businesses that take steps to make their services accessible to the 575,500 people in Wales who are deaf or have hearing loss.

All organisations either nominated themselves or were put forward by a person who is deaf and has received a good service in the past year.

The shortlist is now in the running to be awarded one of four titles;

  • Service Excellence
  • Excellence in Health
  • Excellence in Arts and Entertainment
  • Excellent Employer

The awards will be decided by an independent panel, made up of people who are deaf or have hearing loss. A People’s Choice Award will be chosen by the public, to vote for Get the Chance in this category please click on the link  here.

Rebecca Woolley, Director of Action on Hearing Loss Cymru said,

“The judging panel now have a difficult job to decide the winners from an impressive shortlist. All the shortlisted organisations prove that simple changes can really improve the lives of people with hearing loss. I hope that organisations across Wales are inspired by this shortlist and start thinking about the simple changes they can make to ensure their services are accessible to the one-in-six people who are deaf or have hearing loss.”

Guy O’Donnell, Director, Get the Chance said,

“Our volunteers produce unique content which supports Deaf audiences and artists to ensure a range of opinions are seen and read relating to sport and cultural provision. We are honoured and humbled to be shortlisted as part of this years awards.”

The awards will be held at Cardiff’s St David’s Hotel on 4 May 2018, presented by ITV Wales News reporter Megan Boot.