Kaitlin Wray

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Review The Memo Big Loop Theatre Company by Kaitlin Wray

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4 Stars4 / 5

If the aim of ‘The Memo’ performed by Big Loop Theatre Company was to do a great performance then they certainly nailed it.

The memo is an adaption of ‘The Memorandum’ written by Czechoslovakian writer Vaclav Havel. Even though the play was written in 1965 it is still captivating for a 21st century audience. Produced by Rachel Pedley-Miller and Directed by George Soave they definitely chose a great group of actors to perform Havel’s classic.

Even though it took a while to get a grasp of the story, once I was in it, I was fully immersed. James Sarson, playing the protagonist, Mr.Gross, kept us engaged throughout, even though he was meant to be top of the food chain in the company it was evident that he had no real authority. His antagonist, Ballas, was the complete opposite. Ballas, played by Tobias Weatherburn, portrayed the arrogance and power he has over Mr.Gross within the character. Tobias’ skill at improvisation when something in the scene didn’t quite go to plan added to the skill he has as an actor. Another element that added to the hilarity of the scene was that James exceeded Tobias in height.

The only other actor who had a single character to play was Rhys Denton who played George the ‘staff watcher’. From the beginning, Rhys was sat in the audience and when he spoke for the first time it was quite a shock. His voice was perfect for the roll and even though his character was minimal he still got many laughs from the audience. The other actors were all double casted and the difference between each character was incredible. Aaron Price playing Mr.Pillar was Ballas’ left hand man, or more like his lapdog. Following orders and saying nothing pretty much sums up ‘Mr.P’. The other character he played, Mr.Stroll, was completely unrecognisable from Mr.Pillar. His whole character had transformed from a shy, obedient follower to someone who owned the stage. This was the same with Elinor O’Leary’s characters, Hana and Maria. While Hana was uninterested, sarcastic and a lover of food, Maria was a caring and helpful character that just wanted to do right by everyone. The audience interaction within Lear and Thumb’s scenes, played by Melanie Stevens and Ash Cummings, was intense yet fun. The audience members that weren’t used to the idea of actors invading their personal space definitely got a bit of a shock. Both characters bounced off each other and the contrast in personalities was amusing to watch. Melanie’s accent for both Leah and Maria were on point, both completely different yet humorous and brought her characters out even more. Ashley’s secondary character, Savant, was the lad of the group, laughing outlandishly and thinking he’s top dog. The contrast from that character to Thumb’s geeky over-excited nature was a delight to see. This was a performance that truly highlighted everyones diversity and their skills as an actor.

The directorial choices in this performance was highly applaudable, the transitions between each scenes, the character choices and the relationships between the characters was subtly hilarious. The sexual tension between Mr.Gross and Ballas in certain parts was just the right amount creating another edge to the story line. Furthermore it was also all the little moments when the timing would be perfect or there would be funny quirks For example when Mr.Pillar would end up sitting on peoples laps.

The only thing that let this show down was the space. The performance was located in the basement of the Little Man Coffee Company in Cardiff. This room can get quite stuffy and is relatively small with uncomfortable seats. Therefore I believe it restricted how far the actors could take their performance and the overall enjoyment of the show. Nonetheless, I would still recommend the show to anyone and didn’t take too much away from the whole show.

Overall it was evident that there was a high amount of professionalism from the cast and crew which resulted in over a two hour show being highly thrilling throughout. Each actor knew their character inside out and it was inspiring to see. Looking forward to seeing what The Big Loop Theatre Company do next.

https://www.facebook.com/biglooptheatrecompany/

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    Review Service Episode Four: Fire Walk, Cardiff Fringe by Kaitlin Wray

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    4 Stars4 / 5

    After the success of Episode Three: Taking Stock, I saw at the start of my Cardiff fringe theatre festival, I was excited to watch Episode Four: Fire Walk. I was not disappointed in the slightest. The story line was even crazier and funnier than the first one. The writing  by George Infini is incredible, he knows exactly what will make the audience laugh.

    One of the great things about this show and Episode 3 was the little sketches at the beginning. It sets the scene and gets you right into the show straight away. The ‘forbidden’ romance between Steven and Gene, played by Grant Cawley and Isabelle Paige escalated even more. It got to the point where Gene had to ask for Gavin’s help, played by Sam Harding. This whole interaction was hilarious and got the audience fully immersed with their romance. All actors stayed true to their characters from episode three and it felt like I was watching a series. For episode four there was an additional character called Marshall acted by Jonathan Dunn. His character fitted perfectly with the old manager, Jackie, played by Susan Monkton. They worked as a double team which felt the need to torment the restaurant staff in every way possible. They were a perfect combo that had some marvellous quirks added to their characters.

    Even though it was a short comedy it told a great story and the ending left us wanting to see more. This is a well collaborated group where everyone has put in their time and effort into creating a great performance. It was wonderfully directed by Steve Bennett who added even more comedy moments to the already remarkable writing. I thoroughly love the collaboration between Infini Productions and A Clock Tower Theatre Company. I will be looking out for them in future productions.

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      Review Staff Room-Clock Tower Theatre Company by Kaitlin Wray

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      4 Stars4 / 5

      Every child wonders what the teachers talk about in their lunch break, do they talk about them? Do they even get on? Well, Staff Room by Clock Tower Theatre Company explores this concept. This was a show that played on teacher stereotypes with bundles of laughs, great one liners and a comical storyline.

      Firstly, any theatre company that opens the show with System of a Down’s ‘Chop Suey’ is a winner in my eyes. Michael Taylor, playing Paul the physics teacher walks in with his headphones in blasting this song. I believe this song was a perfect way to reflect on how the character was feeling at the time.

      Next we see Chris Powell playing Mark, the sports teacher. It seemed that Marks whole ambition is to annoy the likes of Paul by constantly chucking cups and paper airplanes. This was a great introduction to the performance and really sets the scene for the comedy to unfold.

      The guy that really caught my eye though sounded like the philosophy teacher John Lawrence, played by Osian Edwards. His over dramatic nature when he was being the narrator in the short story in the play was hysterical. It was really fitting within his character. Nicola Lean, playing the ‘motherly-like’ teacher reminded me of many teachers I had at school. Furthermore, what’s a staff room without a romance brewing? Paul, is in desperate love with pretty maths teacher named Sarah, being played by Hari Hodgetts. Each actor played their character perfectly to the teacher stereotypes.

      This show was a bundle of laughs that really took you back into your high school years. It was fun and easy to watch.

      Home

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        Review Being Norwegian, Axon Theatre Company by Kaitlin Wray

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        4 Stars4 / 5

        Ever met someone on a night out and you look at them and just click with them instantly? Well this is what happened to Lisa and Sean. This intensely hilarious awkward conversation between the pair of them is fun to watch as we’ve all been in that situation where we just don’t know what to say. It is clear they both have an attraction towards each other. However something is pulling Sean back.

        Tom Hurley, playing Sean showed a loveable adorable character with a dark past. The chemistry between him and Lisa, played by Sarah Bennington was captivating. Both actors fully got themselves into their characters and it was evident a lot of time was spent on every moment of the play. No word was thrown away and it felt completely natural and smooth. The naturally comedic moments in the production were hilarious without them even forcing it.

        The set was simplistic yet perfect for the performance. A two seated sofa with boxes all around it. Furthermore it was a nice touch that the actors could control the lighting with the dimmer switch, this also made it feel more realistic to the performance.

        Overall this was an intensely gripping story that was brilliant from the start. It was well directed and acted. I can’t wait to see what Axon Theatre company have next for us.

        Being Norwegian

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          Review Moirai, Big Loop Theatre Company by Kaitlin Wray

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          4 Stars4 / 5

          Moirai, a play that’s completely devised taking inspiration from Greek mythology. Through the use of physical theatre and narrative Big Loop Theatre Company create a beautiful performance that showed three girls resembling creatures who had the control over life, the measure of life, and death. The only props on stage where a box which had a spinning wheel inside with what seemed like an endless amount of string. The string represented everyones life and it was the creatures job to pull the sting, measure the string and then cut it. It started of light hearted yet there is a dark deep underlining meaning.

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          The pre show music helped set the mood as it felt dystopian and out of this world. Before any dialogue happened two of the creatures showcase their boredom and waiting for something to happen, they perform a playful dance-like piece to resemble their characters. It was a clever way to open the show as the audience got to see an insight as to who they were. The great thing I enjoyed about this show was that it kept you guessing as to who they were or what they were doing until half way through. It then began to escalate and we find out exactly what sort of control they had. It was a brilliant well written play with great moments for each actor to shine, and shine they did.

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          Allie Downing plays the creature that begins life, at the beginning we see sort of a child-like creature wanting attention when she’s bored. However when the one thing she cares about is threatened she does everything in her power to stop it. As an audience we really feel for Allie’s character and she does a wonderful job at portraying a character thats just lost everything.

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          Ellen Thomas playing the creature that measures life, seems to be the leader out of the three. It is evident that the other two creatures respect her the most. From the beginning she seems completely head strong and wanting to just enjoy her job. However towards the end she reveals her true feelings and it’s quite emotional to watch.

          Megan Swingler, plays the creature that represents death. It was her duty to cut the string. It is evident that she is frustrated and tired of cutting the string all day and is feeling overwhelmed. Megan plays a character who isn’t in her right mind and ends up taking a risk.

          The collaboration of these three characters with their different personalities match really well on the stage. Their acting was incredible and overall it was a lovely piece to watch. It made me question the meaning of life and to think  “are we all just puppets”.

          http://www.cardifffringetheatrefestival.co.uk/big-loop

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            Review ‘Firm’, Thirsty Bird by Kaitlin Wray

            Firm

            3 Stars3 / 5

            Firm, A play that looks directly at the ugly side of business. Jay Thomas, finds out the hard way how manipulative some bosses can be. Even though the narrative seems a little farfetched, it still raised a number of points and an insight into the brutality of some businesses.

            Joe Burke playing Jay Thomas not only lead acted in it, but he was the writer of ‘Firm’ as well. He creates a character whom only seems to want to get money, and when he does, spends it all on booze. Even though some of his words seemed lost at times; when he wasn’t facing directly towards you; he was great at talking out to the audience and going between the narrator and Jay. Steve Bennett, playing Jay’s best friend Ben, has great comedy timing and owns some adorable fluffy slippers. Ben’s character is the one I believe the audience feels most connected with, due to the realism of the character.

            After seeing Isabelle Paige in Service 3: Taking Stock, the previous evening, I was excited to see what character she showcased next. Unlike the geeky character in Service 3, Isabelle plays a strong-minded business woman with one thing on her mind; making money. Even though Isabelle’s character was vicious and conniving, her character was fun to watch and had a lot of comical moments.

            The main critique I have is that none of the characters in this play I liked or felt truly connected too. This was all due to all the cynicism and hate they have for each other. Even though this was the case there was some nice moments within this play that was both light hearted and fun.

            One of the aspects I liked most about this performance is the way they incorporated the audience within the play.  It felt like it wasn’t just a performance but a lesson as well. The play was set in the round, with a table and two chairs in the middle. The way it was set up, looked pleasing to the eye due to the use of levels. I felt there was not a bad  seat  in the auditorium.

            Overall this show was engaging and amusing to watch. In their bio it says, “if the script isn’t new, you can bet the performance will be.” This is truly was, it was definitely a new and original piece of work.

            Thirsty Bird

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              Cardiff Fringe Festival 2016, Service 3: Taking Stock by Kaitlin Wray

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              Image by www.jonathandunn.net

              4 Stars4 / 5

              So my experience of the Cardiff Fringe Festival started off with a bang! Watching a collaboration of Infini and a Clock Tower Theatre Production they showcased, Episode Three: Taking Stock. It was a great way to relax and have just a bundle of laughs. This was cleverly written by George Infini who devised some outstanding witty comedy with a great set of characters.

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              This quick paced farcical short play showed four different characters with contrasting  personalities yet when put together are highly amusing. There was the playful and devious character of Gavin played by Sam Harding, the hilarious love romance between Steven and Gene; two of the geekiest characters that were played by Grant Cawley and Isabelle Paige.  Then there was Susan Monkton playing Sarah, who was perfect at playing the character everyone seemed to dislike. The plot to remove her as manager is entertaining and the comedic twist at the end was just perfect.

              Overall it was quite a short performance yet this makes Saturday show of Episode Four: Fire Walk even more exciting to watch. I turned up to AJs Coffee House not knowing what to expect and left with my cheeks hurting and feeling rather entertained.

              http://www.cardifffringetheatrefestival.co.uk/clock-tower-theatre-company

              http://www.cardifffringetheatrefestival.co.uk/infini-productionsInfini

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                Review Bird Sherman Cymru By Kaitlin Wray

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                4 Stars4 / 5

                Bird’ the title of this play took off just like a bird itself. A play that took hold of us from the very moment the first word was uttered until the blackout at the end. Rachel O’Riordan, the director of ‘Bird’ with assistant director Elgan Rhys by her side made sure this play not only, ticked all the boxes but was a complete success.

                This was a very clever production written by Katherine Chandler that had twists and turns, it was a play about two young girls in a care home struggling with their past but trying to face up to their future. This is a story that’s so raw I felt like I was trespassing into their private lives. Due to the raw nature, some of the words are at times  lost due to the quick-pace naturalistic acting  but even so, that didn’t take away from the performances overall. Each actor didn’t fault within their characters and it was definitely perfectly cast. The set, designed by Kenny Miller, was simplistic yet effective and I loved the use of the two levels.

                Georgia Henshaw, playing the 15 year old protagonist, Ava, showed her naivety and was full of the energy that you could imagine from a girl of that age. However she also portrayed a girl that has been through a lot. Georgia really embodied her character and it was a great performance to watch.

                Siwan Morris, playing Claire, Ava’s mother, did a phenomenal job at making the audience completely loathe a character and then feeling sympathy towards her in the end. After loving the character of Angie, Siwan played from the first two series of Skins, she was nearly unrecognisable as Claire. Yet both characters she played were phenomenal.

                Rosie Sheehy, playing Ava’s best friend had a voice with such vocal clarity that I loved to listen to, furthermore her dancing skills were on point. Connor Allen, playing a 17 year old Dan who is Ava’s love interest felt like the realest character out of them all who says things as they are. Connor’s characterisation was comedic and entertaining. Last but not least was Guy Rhys who did a great job at acting like a creepy fatherly figure-like role. Throughout the performance it was unclear of his intentions with Ava and Guy and he did a good job at portraying this. This character has one big secret that causes the biggest twist of all.

                If you want to know what happened then I would highly recommend going to see ‘Bird’ as it’s a performance that has great technical proficiency with outstanding direction and performers who will no doubt make a great career out of acting.

                Director- Rachel O’Riordan

                Writer- Katherine Chandler

                Designer- Kenny Miller

                Composer and Sound Designer- Simon Slater

                Deputy Stage Manager- Charlotte Unwin

                Lighting Designer- Kevin Treacy

                Assistant Director- Elgan Rhys

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                  Review Constellation Street The Other Room by Kaitlin Wray

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                  Constellation Street, written by Matthew Bulgo is a combination of four monologues that interlink with each other. Just like Matthew Bulgo’s ‘Last Christmas’ these stories were cleverly thought out and were both captivating and raw. The production team at the Other Room Theatre completely had their work cut out. For anyone who had already been to the Other Room Theatre they wouldn’t have thought it possible that a conventional theatre space could be turned into three separate rooms in completely different habitats. One a hotel room, another a back of the taxi cab and one a bar. What made this show even more unique was they used a part of the courtyard for the final scene. It all worked magnificently. There were some occasions when you could hear what is being said in the other spaces but it didn’t take away from the performance. This really showed the different dimensions of each monologue.

                  Not only did I get the chance to watch this incredible immersive performance, I had the privilege to overlook one of their rehearsals to get a feel of what it would be like directing a production. Watching Chelsey Gillard and Dan Jones at work, both of them taking two monologues each to work on, it was evident that their artistic minds knew exactly how to take on this performance and they both did tremendously. In this rehearsal, a week before the show, I had the chance to watch Nicola Reynolds performing the pub landlady. Even at this point in time she had the character pretty much nailed and it was wonderful to watch. Her mannerisms and the way she effortlessly told her story was endearing. I’m gutted that I didn’t get to see her perform in the actual show but it gives me another excuse to watch this show again!

                  The first room I went into was laid out as if we were in the back of a taxi cab. Roger Evans, playing Frank had his back to us for the majority of the performance with the front mirror showing his reflection. This made his performance even more realistic and raw which made this scene more emotional and felt like you were there to really consolidate with the character. This is a great way to break away from traditional theatre settings and to show people that the character doesn’t always have to be on a stage speaking out to the audience.

                  Then our mini group got lead out into the courtyard for a musical interlude which was a rendition of “All I want” by Kodaline, sung by Gwenllian Higginson. What once was a lovely lyrical song turned into quite an amusing karaoke bash. Even though it was just a musical interlude we really felt for Gwenllian’s character, and it gave us an insight of what might to come later with her performance.

                  The second monologue I saw was the character of Stephen played by Neal McWilliams. We entered into a room that looked completely like a generic hotel room with the classic painting on one of the walls. We were all told to sit down, get comfy and even sit on the bed. Personally this took me out of the mind frame of being an audience member and here to really listen to what’s being said and to give advice or help in any way. The monologue was overall, heart wrenching, it showed themes of betrayal and loss. Neal really took us through the characters life which started off quite pleasant but then turned as the story went on. It felt like he was completely reliving what had happened and the memories he has. By the end of it all I wanted to do was give him a great big hug.

                  The final scene was taken place in the courtyard by the character of Alex, acted by Gwenllian Higginson. I already had the privilege to watch over Gwenllian’s scene, and see a section of it being done. However listening to it being doing outside it felt like it was the first time I was hearing the words again. Gwenllian, played Alex to be quite a sassy girl who appears to be in control of everything, someone who has been through a lot. Her ability as an actress to show the different emotions she has with ease and convincingness was inspiring to watch. There were some real comedic elements to this monologue which she played with great timing and demeanour. This monologue was tense and you were completely drawn in to everything she was saying. The only downside was that you could hear the Porter’s customers in the other section of the courtyard and due to it being a Friday night it was generally quite loud. However the one up side to this is that it felt like we were at a open mic night or at a stand up comedy where it would be loud. This I believe enhanced the intensity given to the scene.

                  Not only was the acting outstanding, but they really went above and beyond in making this performance unique and memorable. Matthew Bulgo I would definitely say is a genius when it comes to writing original and amazing stories that really grips into the hearts of people. The monologues interlinked beautifully. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it and would love to be taken on that journey again.

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                    Review Constellation Street by Kaitlin Wray

                    constellations-street-gwenllian-higginson-credit-aenne-pallasca

                    Constellation Street written by Matthew Bulgo is a combination of four monologues that interlink with each other. Just like Matthew Bulgo’s ‘Last Christmas’ produced by Dirty Protest these stories are cleverly thought out and are both captivating and raw. For this production the team at the Other Room Theatre completely had their work cut out. For anyone who has already been to the Other Room Theatre they wouldn’t have thought it possible that a conventional theatre space could be turned into three separate rooms in completely different habitats. One a hotel room, another a back of the taxi cab and one a bar. What made this show even more unique was they used a part of the courtyard for the final scene. It all worked magnificently. There were some occasions when you could hear what is being said in the other spaces but it didn’t take away from the performance. This really showed the different dimensions of each monologue.

                    Not only did I get the chance to watch this incredible immersive performance, but I also had the privilege to overlook one of their rehearsals to get a feel of what it would be like directing a production. Watching Chelsey Gillard and Dan Jones at work, both of them taking two monologues each to work on, it was evident that their artistic minds knew exactly how to take on this performance and they both did tremendously. In this rehearsal, a week before the show, I had the chance to watch Nicola Reynolds performing the pub landlady. Even at this point in time she had the character pretty much nailed and it was wonderful to watch. Her mannerisms and the way she effortlessly told her story was endearing. I’m gutted that I didn’t get to see her perform in the actual show but it gives me another excuse to watch this show again!

                    The first room I went into was laid out as if we were in the back of a taxi cab. Roger Evans, playing Frank had his back to us for the majority of the performance with the front mirror showing his reflection. This made his performance even more realistic and raw which made this scene more emotional, it felt like you were there to really consolidate with the character. This is a great way to break away from traditional theatre settings and to show people that the character doesn’t always have to be on a stage speaking out to the audience.

                    Then our mini group got lead out into the courtyard for a musical interlude which was a rendition of “All I Want” by Kodaline, sung by Gwenllian Higginson. What once was a lovely lyrical song turned into quite an amusing karaoke bash. Even though it was just a musical interlude we really felt for Gwenllian’s character, and it gave us an insight of what might to come later with her performance.

                    The second monologue I saw was the character of Stephen played by Neal McWilliams. We entered into a room that looked like a generic hotel room with the classic painting on one of the walls. We were all told to sit down, get comfy and even sit on the bed. Personally this took me out of the mind frame of being an audience member and here to really listen to what’s being said and to give advice or help in any way. The monologue was, heart wrenching, it showed themes of betrayal and loss. Neal really took us through the characters life which started off quite pleasant but then turned as the story went on. It felt like he was completely reliving what had happened and the memories he has. By the end of it all I wanted to do was give him a great big hug.

                    The final scene took place in the courtyard with the character of Alex, played by Gwenllian Higginson. I already had the privilege to watch Gwenllian’s scene, and see a section of it being performed. However listening to it being doing outside it felt like it was the first time I was hearing the words again. Gwenllian, played Alex as a sassy girl who appears to be in control of everything, someone who has been through a lot. Her ability as an actress to show the different emotions she has with ease and convincingness was inspiring to watch. There were some real comedic elements to this monologue which she played with great timing and demeanour. It was tense and you were completely drawn in to everything she was saying. The only downside was that you could hear the Porter’s customers in the other section of the courtyard and due to it being a Friday night it was generally quite loud. However the one up side to this is that it felt like we were at a open mic night or at a stand up comedy where it would be loud. This I believe enhanced the intensity given to the scene.

                    Not only was the acting outstanding, but the whole company really went above and beyond in making this performance unique and memorable. Matthew Bulgo is a genius when it comes to writing original and amazing stories that really grip the hearts of audiences. The monologues interlinked beautifully. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it and would love to be taken on this journey again.

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