It is a cold and snowy night in St Hilary. I drive up to the village hall. All is quiet. I tap on the door. It creaks open…to expose a whole community packed into a warm space – already chatting and laughing and drinking tea. A blast of hot air and frivolity. An absolute treat to be amongst such a friendly bunch all ready to enjoy themselves. And enjoy ourselves we do.
You always think you know Oscar Wilde = that you are au fait with every quip and quiver but no, we all know so little of this clever writer, this scribe of human quirks.
Lord Arthur performed by Martin Harris is positively steaming with aristocratic lunacy – a Bateman come to life, facing out his audience and batting down his batman. Ah, Middlewick performed by Chris Bridgman. Valet, butler, gentleman’s gentleman,player of many parts. Subtle, farcical, multi-talented, the perfect foil.
They do not falter.
We are laughing from the off. We are relishing the peculiar gratification of recognising a line, a title, a character. And then it starts to take a tricky turn. We are being included. Not just eyeballed but persuaded onto the stage. Stage? A chair, a fireplace, a table and a stool just within the curve of our seating. A painting of Lady Savile, young Sybil in fine Edwardian garb, overseeing all of us. And we are suddenly nervous.
Cries of, Oooh I’m glad to be at the back, go out. We egg on our comrades to join in with that curious mixture of jealousy and relief. It is expertly handled. Hilarious! Properly one of the funniest theatrical experiences to be had. The temperature starts to climb. The macabre nature of the tale unfolds and we accept not only the dark side of our humour but the apparent ease with which the upper class is seen to accept its position outside of the law. Lord Arthur and Middlewick start to play with our sensibilities and we are sucked in. We are all in the clutches of the palmist.
D’you think authenticity is what they’re after in St. Hilary?Clearly not! We want more Lady Clem.
A slightly clunky trip to Venice requires us to take a break and enjoy wine and ice cream while the snow falls outside and the temperature rises inside.
In our cups, we rise to the panto atmosphere and settle into the second act with enthusiasm. Lord Arthur, driven to a carefully controlled distraction by his failure to commit murder, pushes on with Middlewick riding shotgun to the story telling. We are roaring with laughter and starting to wonder how it all will end.
And end it does. A sorry damp little ending, perhaps a bit like life itself.
And we are released into the cold, a lot warmer and a little wiser to the power of suggestibility to the gentler mind. It’s all been such nonsense…
There was an Old Person of Ems Who casually fell in the Thames; And when he was found, they said he was drowned, That unlucky Old Person of Ems.
I’m never quite sure what we are trying to say when it comes to our use of the internet.
And I’m none the wiser after this performance.
We dance around the issues of data-sharing and personal exposure. We dally with each other’s lives and throw our own out there into web-space without thought for the consequences.
We trip the light fantastic with our innermost secrets reluctantly and willingly bared.
This is elegant, cautious, a ripple of ideas from dancer to dancer. We give and we take, we argue and hide. We watch the interplay of give and take played out as always with beauty, story and perfect timing.
We watch two reluctant lovers forced together by circumstance and unavoidable magnetism progress into companionable partnership.
This philosophic performance makes me think: do we have a choice?
Clever, thoughtful, poetic.
All photography by Sian Trenberth, Panopitcon by Tim Volleman, Set & Costume: Sophie Wheelan, Lighting: Jose Tevar , Sound Design: Benjamin Smith, Composer: Trailand Elzorth. Dancers: Elena Sgarbi & Oliver Chapman
Some people just make you wish you could be someone else, have someone else’s gifts – maybe just for a day.
This is clean, smart, strong. She stands confidently alone and accepts the challenges life brings.
I am agog at the power in this dance, this dancer. She is utterly beautiful and complete.
‘Un’ by Kat Collings , Set & Costume: Megumi Okazaki, Lighting: Jose Tevar , Sound Design: Benjamin Smith , Composer: Sylvia Villa , Dancer: Julia Reider
To my left is a choreographer and dancer and she says of this: they fly!
And fly they do.
This piece is the reason to follow this dance company, to follow dance, to sit here in the dark and let the lights and the simplicityof the stage capture you, to let the music touch you and the movements of the dancers feed your soul.
The love in this dance makes me cry. This feels as if it has been born perfect, perfection born of two imperfect creatures in a story of passion and pain.
“Truth is, so great, that I wouldn’t like to speak, or sleep, or listen, or love. To feel myself trapped, with no fear of blood, outside time and magic, within your own fear, and your great anguish, and within the very beating of your heart. All this madness, if I asked it of you, I know, in your silence, there would be only confusion. I ask you for violence, in the nonsense, and you, you give me grace, your light and your warmth. I’d like to paint you, but there are no colors, because there are so many, in my confusion, the tangible form of my great love. ” Diego Riviera
I see this piece again and again behind closed eyes and relive it best I can.
To my right, the costumier says, however many times I see this it will not be enough. I agree.
‘Ecrit’ by Nikita Goile, Set & Costume: Erty Huang, Lighting: Jose Tevar , Sound Design: Benjamin Smith , Composer: Florencia Alen Dancers: Nikita Goile & Cyril Durand-Gasselin
Why Are People Clapping
Because they are having fun!
Slapping, clapping, rollicking dance as a lively contrast to the soul-searching we have enjoyed before.
I find this hard on my ears and squint back at the stage, recoiling slightly at the noise. It is such a shock! The rhythm of life beats and the audience laughs and we pull faces back at the dancers’comic turns.
This feels like an exercise, an exploration – a start to something this extraordinary company of dancers will see through in its own way and I very much look forward to seeing it too.
‘Why Are People Clapping?’ by Ed Myhill,Set & Costume: Elin Steele, Lighting: Jose Tevar, Sound Design: Benjamin Smith , Dancers: Julia Reider, Kat Collings, Tim Volleman, Elena Sgarbi & Oliver Chapman
A wonderful series of pieces – I left exhausted and elated.
7 – 9 June 2018
Seen: 8 June
National Dance Company Wales
Dance & Design from Cardiff’s emerging artists
Dance House, Wales Millennium Centre
Choreographer – Tim Volleman
Dancers – oliver Chapman & Elena Sgarbi
Choreographer – Kat collings
Dancer – Julia Reider
Choreographer – Nikita Goile
Dancers – Nikita goile & Cyril surand-gasselin
Why Are People Clapping
Choreographer – Ed Myhill
Dancers – Julia Reider, Kat Collings, Tim Volleman elenaSgarbi, Oliver Chapman
“To know yourself, you must accept your dark side. To deal with others’ dark sides, you must also know your dark side.”
Tonight, with this piece, Ballet Cymru gives us a vision of utter loveliness in dance, in theatre and in purpose. Tonight, I cry with the utter elevated beauty of it all.
The dancers are beautiful, confident story-tellers and they revel in the simple stories they tell.
Exposed and discerning, gentle and strong, they seem so utterly happy out there under the lights. Oblivious to the likes of me, gazing at them with wet eyes.
The painfully perfect shadow of the Royal Ballet is cast and it serves to brighten our Ballet Cymru. This is the most gorgeous coupling. We can feel the reverence and respect and sense the raising of the game; we are in the presence of greatness and its impact: the lifts a little higher, the smiles a little wider, the precision of ballet in the arena of modern dance.
And danced to such music! Such mournfully sweet song. Just perfect. It reaches inside me and touches the soul in me.
Stripped, bare, tops and tunics against dark stone wall, it is just light on dance, lightness and dancers. All darks and lights and thoughtfulness.
Visually, aurally, this is just sublime.
Shadow Aspect starts with Jung so should end with Jung:
“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”
Thank you, Ballet Cymru, for striking the match.
Choreography By Tim Podesta
Music by French composer Jean-Phillipe Goude
With kind permission from www.icidailleurs.com
Stage design by Australian architect Andy Mero & Tim Podesta
I have grown to adore National Dance Company Wales, I covet every ticket to every performance I am able to attend and I cherish each moment spent in the presence of such talent. And the dance pieces played out on the stage of the Wales Millennium Centre for P.A.R.A.D.E .were more of the same – clever, beautiful, witty, fulfilling. The performance pieces in the foyer and outside in the Oval Basin, were enjoyable and the context fun. But the intention of P.A.R.A.D.E. was lost to me. The problem as I see it is mine and it is this: expectation.
The original P.A.R.A.D.E. was designed to bring ballet to the masses, a cultural-political poke in the eye to traditional elitism. An opening of doors to art and theatre and ballet. This wasn’t quite. It was more an homage to Lenin and to the Revolution and to Russia. And glorious in its own right.
Photo credit: Mark Douet
Outside, free to stand about in our anoraks, occasionally prompted to wave our little red flags in response to the forceful rhetoric from our esteemed leader – past entrepreneurs lambasted and then a crie de couer ‘where are the entrepreneurs when we need them now?’ Hiding?! What a spectacular leader in Eiry Thomas we have! I rather think we might follow her forever in enthusiastic formation!
Instead, we rally to the dance and admire the aerial robot – all silver against the blue of dungarees and the red of the lights.
Photo credit: Mark Douet
I wasn’t expecting a socio-political tirade on our current times; nor a dystopian view of our future past; it feels like a rather arty dance-y episode of Dr Who. Not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.
We feel the collective conscience and obligingly shuffle into the WMC where we experience the dystopian theme as it continues with men in dresses and masks dancing with shopping trolleys. ‘The worm that turned’ perhaps. More Factory floor box shifting along the counters. More dungarees. More still silent faces.
Photo credit: Mark Douet
We can only look. Walk around them. There is no engagement, no participation, only watching. And lots of boxes. It’s predictable but not comfortable. It’s creepy. It’s always clever.
Back in our comfort zone, with paid tickets we settle into our seats and watch some very clever dance. I am back in the land I know of adoration.
‘I thought the dance pieces in the WMC were amazing. I was transfixed’.
Photo credit: Mark Douet
The first piece, P.A.R.A.D.E. huge and dark and taped up, smacks of rebellion on the factory floor, the fear of automation. It has a ‘50s feel. All smokey dark and dismal. Costumes roll from municipal and practical to cardboard rococo and crying eye to breast-plated automaton. Big. Complex. Storytelling dance with breadth and depth and drama. Wonderful. ‘I liked it. I loved it. It fills the stage.’ No mean feat at the WMC.
Photo Credit: Rhys Cozens
The second. Tundra. Different. Dramatic, quietly voluble and perfectly captivating. Very beautiful. Honed, stark, arctic. Very far from barren. It is not enough to see this once. The audience leaves in roaring silence.
Choreographed to perfection, visually dramatic, carefully disturbing; P.A.R.A.D.E. is a show to be proud to have seen. I just wish we had been a little more included.
Check out the atmospheric trailers for PARADE – they are spectacular.
CHAPTER IN ASSOCIATION WITH GARETH JOHN BALE AND OWEN THOMAS
This is very uncomfortable viewing in a very small intimate space. We are witnesses to a private life in a public space.
Laughing at jokes our present vox populi disdains. Awkward. Funny. Have we forgotten that some things are just funny? Not sexist, dirty, grubby, misogynist, vile, elitist. Just funny.
From the mid 1980s onwards, we start to judge. We start to create a view of things humorous according to an assumed view of things social, socially acceptable. We start to judge a man according to his popularity, his means. Mean, they said. Was he?
Was Benny even half the terrible things we said he was? How refreshing to get another view.
Not mean but normal. Not lecherous but admiring. Not base but witty.
Hugely popular for years, a hard-working comic who paved the path others trod. A quiet man. A man who sat in his chair and who we all like to think died in shame and misery and silence.
Silence, yes. Peace, yes. The peace of his own home, his own chair.
Why do we fear being alone in death so much? What else have we, the populi, also lost along with our ability to judge individually and in context?
Our vox seems louder than ever but is it shouting down the debate and silencing the dissenters? Uncomfortable viewing indeed.
An outstanding, enjoyable, humane performance by Liam Tobin. Clever direction, clever script. Enough hopping back and for through time to make it theatre, not so much as to make it contrived.
I absolutely loved the final scene – the main man, the person, Benny, playing out of the television and over his room, his chair, his body. Playing that tune, that background music to life as we know it.
Very, very good stuff indeed.
It is a grey audience tonight. How would a younger audience react, I wonder. It would be interesting to show a Benny Hill programme beforehand. Even more interesting to get each member of the audience’s honest reactions.
Could be a shocker!
Oh and I sat next to someone who knew someone who knew one of Benny’s Angels… and she had had a blast!
Performed by Liam Tobin
Written by Owen Thomas
Directed by Gareth John Bale
Reviewed by Helen Joy, 3rd Act Critic for Get the Chance, Friday 9th September
What an interesting evening! Enjoyable company, a suitably fringe-y venue complete with glitter ball and gold chairs and wine in a plastic goblet in the attics of a Cardiff bar and I’m happy. Nice bit of chatter in the foyer before and after and much to chat about. A very welcoming experience.
And Many Man begins. His little stage reminds me of someone moving house, just leaving, just arriving, in boxes, in transit. He is in our faces and alone. He is a comic, a stand-up, a young man telling us the ordinary story of his younger life and he makes us laugh.
The audience is mostly young men. I could be his mother. Their mother. I could be the woman in the kitchen of his past making chicken dinner on a Sunday. I could be the youngster bored with the comfort of the repetition of a safe and ordinary life. We all connect with something in his history and it is safe to laugh. But we know something is amiss. We glimpse his torture and we wait.
There are no breaks, no let up. We are strapped to our seats and braced for the ride. He is a phoney, a liar, a conman. He is an American, a Scot, a Welshman. He loses more than he gains in his efforts to be extra ordinary: to get the girl, to keep the girl, to love the girl and to love himself. It is not funny; it is tragic. And we are awkward in our responses. I can see people reaching for their drinks, looking away, no longer smiling but embarrassed, caught out.
It is a story of self-loathing. It is a breakdown. It is La Voix Humane and Many Man is singing his heart out through the window of the stage. For him, it is a long hour. It is a cleverly sculpted piece, still rough, still forming; hard and physical.
The church bells of St John’s ring in practice session and lend a certain resonating presence to the tale. I am not sure we like this man, this me.
Cast & Crew
Tobias Weatherburn – Writer, Performer
Becca Lidstone – Director
I know Anna, a bit. We worked together briefly in a local charity supporting people receiving mental health services. We stayed in touch as she moved her career into the arts. I interviewed her on Radio Cardiff about this play. Her play. Her life. Her tits.
Anyone thinking this was going to be about anyone else’s tits is mistaken. Any social-political commentary is suggestive rather than overt, Anna is her own one woman treatise on the elastic line between tit and breast, sexual objects and milk bar.
I really like the atmosphere as we walk in to take our seats. The room is dark, girls are dancing, pop is playing, pictures of breasts various on the screen. White Russians are handed out. Not sure we get the significance yet. Much clearer when the breast milk samples are offered ’round later in the performance.
The dancing girls insinuate themselves into the audience. Hecklers and fighters for the views of others on breastfeeding as it progresses. A messy milky fight for rights.
It is a monologue of Anna’s experiences, a voyage ’round her breasts from girlhood to adulthood to motherhood and beyond. She refers to her book, diary perhaps, along the way. Stories are started, we are left to draw our own conclusions.
Anna uses her heckling dancers to good effect. A male heckler is used to make the point that it is not a show for titillation, ‘though Anna is fearless and shares her body appropriately and willingly and with a gentle self-deprecating humour.
Now. Here’s the thing. I haven’t had children and frankly, I don’t know much about tits as mother nature never felt much inclined towards generosity in that department.
This is a play about Anna’s tits. I have no idea what she is talking about for most of the time. I can see that the audience loves it – mostly women, mostly women with children I would assume, they are nodding in agreement and laughing with Anna throughout. She relates back. It is very nicely done.
Anna is sharing the intimate details of her life and most of the women, and a few men, are with her. Laughing with the relief of their own confusion, pain, embarrassments and pleasures being given air-time.
The atmosphere becomes heady with love for Anna, for her honesty, for the sisterhood. But I am lost.
I am sitting next to another woman equally detached from the proceedings. We want to love her too but we can’t. We are not part of this. But we admire her, enormously.
Afterwards, by invitation, the foyer is full of women signing the cartoon tits laid out on tables, they are groupies waiting for their heroine, their voice, to join them. Something powerful is happening here.
The clue was in the title. This is a brave, funny, honest autobiography and like many things we don’t quite like, don’t quite understand, it will stay with me far longer than anything I have enjoyed more. It made me think about the changing roles of the breast in society and in nature. It made me slightly jealous.
PS typing this has been annoyingly tricky as predictive/corrective text replaces TITS with TITUS, BREASTS with BEASTS. Says it all really.
Seen: Friday, 7th July, 2017
Venue: Chapter Arts, Cardiff
Reviewer: Helen Joy for Get the Chance
Performer, producer, director, writer: Anna Suschitsky
It is indeed a rough magic. A clever, witty, kind sort of rough magic woven through this production of one of Shakespeare’s stranger tales.
Ambulating through Thompson’s Park, a space for the imagination if ever there was one, this charming, funny and imaginative version enchants us all.
Dull and colourless as this audience is in its raincoats and wellies, we provide a suitably leaden contrast to the spangles and sequins of the cast. Blue against the green leaves, gold against the grey bark. Barque. The puns are smart, the lines are clear. Nothing is left unexplained, untranslated, misinterpreted. It is all done with a competent amusement.
It is a marvellous interpretation. A 1930s cruise, flamboyant characters and the utter bonkersness which this Company does so brilliantly.
One of the things it also does so well is multi-casting. The comedy trio of Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban is just joyous. I absolutely love them – and this audience laughs back into their contorted faces. The three of them swap between roles smartly and provide that bit of Shakespearean slapstick we need between the heavy bits. Caliban is familiar, he reminds me of Moriarty, all cute and smarmy. Handsome as the glorious Miranda’s short (you will have to see it to get that) lover, he is captivating all round.
As is Prospero. A difficult and lengthy role which is delivered with assurance and terrific suavity. The compere of the evening, he is maitre d’ of his Island and of us all. He is appropriately edgy and advances on us loitering observers with confidence, making us fearful of his abilities. His soft voice persuades us to come closer, he is in charge.
Now. Ariel. The singer. The dishy sprite with the admiring backing group. Another tricky role and well played. As are all the roles. The exaggerated expressions, the songs, the comic timing, the acting, is all delightful. There is magic here. There is nothing not to like here. Shakespeare would’ve loved it, loved the inclusiveness of it all, loved the weather it played out in – can we ever control anything, anyone, however powerful we think we are?
We trip into the performance on bright blue boats and trip out wishing Prospero well in his new life. We have understood this complex play in a way we never have before, we have been entertained, educated and included.
Go see – take a lightweight, foldable chair & check the weather forecast as you may need a hat; sensible shoes are de rigeur.
Helen Joy for Get the Chance, 3rd Act Critics.
Photography – Jorge Lizalde- Studio Cano
TAKING FLIGHT THEATRE COMPANY
THE TEMPEST by William Shakespeare
Director- Elise Davison
Designer- Becky Davies
Composer and Musical Director- Dan Lawrence
Costume Maker- Angharad Gamble
BSL consultants- Jean St Clair and Daryl Jackson
Milton Lopes- Ariel
Dean Rehman- Prospero
Stephanie Back- Miranda
Sian Owens – Antonia/ ensemble
Paul Henshall- Gonzalo
Sami Thorpe- BSL Dance Captain
Sam Bees- Alonso/ Stephano
Ioan Gwyn- Ferdinand/ Caliban
Huw Blainey- Sebastian/ Trinculo
Shannon Davison- ensemble
Lauren Burgess- ensemble
Audio trailer- English
Audio trailer Welsh
*Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07785 947823 to discuss any access requirement. Touch tours and BSL introductions are available by arrangement.
Supported by Arts Council of Wales
Unless otherwise stated next to date, follow this link below for tickets.
Taking Flight Theatre Company (TFTC) was formed by Beth House and Elise Davison in 2008. Beth met Elise whilst working on a youth theatre project in South Wales. Having worked extensively together since then on a freelance basis, they decided to make it official and set up Taking Flight Theatre Company. Our aim with this company is to work with groups of people who have traditionally been underrepresented in theatre, film and television, and to make fully accessible and integrated theatre for all ages. Taking flight Theatre Company regularly tour to some of the most gorgeous open spaces across Wales (and occasionally England) with beautifully realised Shakespearean adventures every summer. TFTC have also led on a Welsh Government initiative tackling Disability Hate Crime for the last 3 autumns- reaching over 9,000 young people in the last 3 years. TFTC also perform festival and street theatre pieces during the summer. You’ve Got Dragons is their first production especially developed for theatres and professional and community performance spaces.
Taking Flight Theatre Company have an integrated casting policy which goes hand in hand with their belief in creating fully accessible and integrated theatre- employing the best creative talent regardless of visible and invisible abilities. Our philosophy reaches out to performers who might traditionally have been overlooked by mainstream theatre, and as such they often employ disabled, D/deaf and sensory impaired performers, placing positive disabled role models centre stage.
Follow us at: @takingflightco
Like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Takingflightco/
Selection of cast biographies
Following 4 years of touring theatre across Wales with various companies (Arad Goch, Bara Caws, Mess up the Mess), Ioan went on to study a Masters in Classical Acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Since graduation he has performed in a variety of classical plays such as Volpone, Cymbeline and a one-off performance in Shakespeare’s Globe of an unearthed play by Thomas Jordan, Tricks of Youth.
Aside from performing Richard III at The Tower of London, this is Ioan’s first outdoor theatre tour, and he looks forward to the inevitable performance in the rain!
Paul trained at Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre.
He has worked extensively in theatre, and his TV credits include; Dr Dean West: Holby City, Paul Ball: I’m With Stupid, Michael Scant: A Thing Called Love, Ollie Beresford: Casualty, David Hobbs: Playing the Field, all for BBC. Prankster: Off Their Rockers – Blue Badge Special, ITV
Paul was the first disabled person in the country to gain a qualification in stage combat from the British Academy of Dramatic Combat, and in 2007 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Staffordshire University for services to acting and the promotion of disabled actors.
Paul is also a trained and registered Hypnotist, specialising in confidence, stage fright and phobias, and also performs comedy stage hypnosis shows
Smart hand-drawn backdrop. Black and white lines of a kitchen-living-room. Strange distorted dystopian home of the bored and disaffected. With a loo off the side. A few spots of red from some flowers in a painted jar. She is black and white too.
This is a very odd start. A woman neatly dressed piddling noisily, then stroking her hair back from her head with her wetted hands. What a thing to remember so clearly. How shocking it is. How very very personal. And so it continues.
Intense, in your face, curiously flamboyant. Radio triggers a reminder of passions unspent. English at first. German later. This is an extraordinary physical breakdown of a woman tried by her own life, afraid of engaging with the outside world, trapped in her silence. It is her world and she seems ok with that.
Till she changes half way. When her hair comes down.
One very able dancer expresses the need for company and contact through a very emotional, tight series of movements which I long to become fluid and sloppy, warm from cold. Which they do, just for a short while, not long before the end, not long before she eats the red roses, dropping their bloody petals onto her green dress. Her mouth crammed with sadness, her tears quite real.
It seems completely inappropriate to applaud. Wrong. Hurtful.
The audience slopes out. A few check out the set, taking pictures, reverently whispering. Me too. I do not ask anyone what they think this time.
Helen Joy for Get the Chance, 3rd Act Critics.
The Request Show – Cooperativa Maura Morales
The Request Show (Cuba/Germany)
Performed by Maura Morales
Music composed by Michio Woirgardt
An invited audience to consider, critique and approve a new play from the Parama2 team, staged during Age Cymru’s Gwanwyn Festival 2017.
Examining and delighting in the lives of female factory workers in Wales
As part of a series of creative activities working with factory workers and the likes of us, the public
This time last year, I was one of a small number of women lucky enough to play a part in the MakingIt! creative writing workshops. Loosely addressing the broader project researching the lives of women in Welsh factories, we wrote and acted in our resultant plays. It was fantastic! It opened my eyes to these remarkable women and to the impact their lives had on ours; and a glimpse into the world of writing, producing and acting.
So, when I had an invitation to attend a sharing, a mid-way production of a play written and produced by the same team, I was delighted and very proud. It was joyous to meet my writing group again and we are very much looking forward to the next stage in our joint creative development, thanks to Parama2.
And as to the play itself. Well. What a thing.
Some things make you feel like you have seen them before. You haven’t. They just have something about them which you recognise, instinctively. They appeal on some very basic level. They are the stories you have heard all your life but never read.
This is how this play makes me feel. I know these women. They are the women I descend from. They would not know me at all. I would be English to them, posh, privileged; and they’d be right. I loved everyone of them. I wondered how my grandmother in the ribbon factory during the war would’ve fitted in.
Great characters all and very well played. Each one clearly defined early on, no messing. Nice clear scripting supported by simple direction and uncomplicated acting. Neat storytelling, relying on the punch of the words and their delivery. Everyone different and balancing against each other perfectly. Enough given away to know there is a bigger story or two out there in the wings but that we will have to wait to hear them. A precious ring and a grammar school kid for starters. Great stuff. Nothing spectacular, realistic and homely.
And funny. A terrific bombastic lead with a right few pals around her but no one hogs the show. This is partly because of the singing. We sing. We’re Welsh. We can’t help it, apparently. It turns a play into a musical and in those moments, we get the chance to breathe and to think and to piece it all together. The songs are clever, witty, sad and funny and really well sung. There are some really good voices on that stage and they add to the individuality of the women, they make them even more solid and agreeable.
And as a retired factory worker in the audience said,
‘We were on the bus and this woman wouldn’t stop singing – someone shut that woman up, they said. Shirley Bassey it was.’
We all like a tune to take home.
We are shown a film too. A touching vignette of a tea dance in Porthcawl wrapped up with Tom Jones. And there they were, some of them, sitting just in front of me. Truly delightful and very much part of the story of the factory workers but I wasn’t sure how this fitted in with the play. Perhaps it was just a reminder of the continuing zest for life they had, in spite of or perhaps because of, the hard work and their fights for rights. And to remind us that they are not all dead, it is not that long ago. Keep up.
Discussion afterwards is relevant and interesting. It has the feel of an audience wanting to be heard, full of ideas and histories.
More men comment than women. Maybe they still just shout louder. Different people from different backgrounds suggest different angles – more facts, more slog, more reality. There is enough of all of these. These women found fun in what did, they were the trailblazers for our freedoms and quite frankly, we could learn a thing or two from them.
This play will help them teach us, if only we listen.