Lauren Ellis - Stretch

I'm Lauren - a theatre loving sixth form student enjoying the opportunity to watch as much as I can.

Review The Addams Family WMC

A nickelodeon remake of ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’
In essence, you can categorise all performance criticism under two Cheryl Cole .circa 2008-11 X Factor, automated responses, ’you’re right up my street’, or ‘it wasn’t my cup of tea.’ ‘The Addams Family’ was not my ‘cup of tea’. It wasn’t even my dirty pint that I’d down – victim to peer pressure – on a Saturday night… but it was fun and harmless… unlike a dirty pint on a Saturday night.


‘The Addams Family’ gives you all that you’d expect – the characters’ dead-pan eccentricity, a fabulously ghoulish set, its beloved theme tune and numerous merchandise stalls to preserve its ever-inflating franchise. But it is niche exploited – the musical is farcical. Personally, I can’t quite accept that the self–contained world of ‘The Addams Family’ (on screen) – and the escapist voyeurism that it offers – can be exposed to a stage adaptation without making a mockery of the former.
‘The Addams Family Musical’ is basically a panto with an extremely high production-value, but, hell, sometimes a spiralling farce and a classic ‘dad joke’ will be perfectly suffice – for some – if you like that sort of thing… It’s a simplistic and worn narrative pardoned by pizazz!

Musical numbers were gloriously theatrical, and the voices of Samantha Womack and Carrie Hope Fletcher rang beautifully within the theatre. It was Fletcher’s portrayal of Wednesday Addams which is undoubtedly the highlight of the production. She has an inexpressible and innate draw; an attraction that defies an audience’s choice in the matter.


The set design by Diego Pitarch was innovative, transporting – it had a masterful subtlety to defining a scene with ease and interchangeability. Alistair David’s choreography, paired with the sheer vibrancy of the production’s costume and technical design, was a spectacle; combined, the chorus were an indispensable surge of energy.


‘The Addams Family’ is a spectacle, shallow, but a visual delight. If you’re looking for a show that the kids and grandma will enjoy look no further – just get yourself a vodka orange in the interval and you’ll find it just as funny as them.

by Lauren Ellis-Stretch

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    Review Jayne Eyre, WMC by Lauren Ellis-Stretch and Caitlin Whiteley

    5 Stars5 / 5

     

    Jane Eyre is fearsome and blazing, with an inevitably symbolic of the plays presentation of temptation and restless desire, the audience succumb, engulfed by the ferocity of its cast and the boldness of Sally Cookson’s direction.


    Amongst the haunting moors, trepidation is a state of being and, yet, our female heroine embodies its antithesis – fired by generational anguish, past and contemporary, Bronte – mediated by Cookson – defies the societal dismissal of the wholly feminine nature of yearning and discontent. The National Theatre’s ‘Jane Eyre’ is soaring and liberated, necessary as an, ever-contemporary, evolved feminist narrative.


    Hope, within the play, is almost embodied as a metaphorical rejection of the play’s desolate and dire setting, in its weighted suppression, through the stark opposition of the cast’s spirited elevation and weightlessness. Through Jane’s experiences of; the people she meets, the places she sees, and that which she cannot understand, she is subjected to sinisterism and character-dimming corruption – preaching a passive dignity, in  favour of her (societally embedded) feminine duty – yet, ultimately love is professed as the only true salvation. Conflicting, in nature, as she is bound through desire, love liberates Jane as simultaneously she is chained to one man for all eternity. Ultimately pre-occupied by the pondering of existentially-defying love, I do wonder how the Bronte’s would respond to Love Island.


    The solidity and grounding conveyed by the set band embodied an inevitability of Jane and Mr Rochester’s unity through an unbridled and innate devotion conveyed by the all-encompassing folk instrumental. Originated within, what was considered, the English ‘country’, in its expression of working-class tradition, custom and superstitions, it is mystifying and fiercely optimistic in wanderlust.
    Michael Vale’s set design, earthy and raw, preaches and idolises childlike innocence, as the cast boundlessly throw and exert themselves to-and-fro the minimalistic tree house. In the pure and sanctified white sheets hanging to enmesh the space it is the projection of our own thoughts, the play’s narration and the immorality of the characters themselves which taint and stain the clean, preserved walls of the godly, proper, Victorian society that they abide to.


    Dan Canham’s movement spurred and propelled its cast with agitation, injected spirit, yet, ultimately, underlined an active mistreatment and suppression of Jane Eyre. The production’s movement and instrumental accompaniment evoked and transpired a wanderlust and disquietude from Jane unto us as the continuous action pounding from the stage beat within my stomach.
    The production’s frenetic energy combined with the haunting spectre of Melanie Marshall’s Bertha Mason, a raw, wretched and pitiful operatic presence, magnified the sparsity of the set, with its bare isolation that, arguably, embodies the desolate origins that drew, boundlessly, the souls of Jane and Mr. Rochester to clasp together.


    The halting, sharp scenes and the multitudinous use of rough sound gave the play the same raw emotion that categorises the book as such an elegant and unflinching exploration of the human heart. In the flurry, and succession, of such striking performances, the cast achieve flawlessness in their execution of truly turbulent multi-rolling with a rejoiced creative ferment.


    Nadia Clifford was a spectacle to behold brimming with the fever of Jane’s restlessness. Feisty and crumbling, neither over-bearing, Nadia created the unrelenting independence and the secret longing that characterises the eponymous heroine. Nadia’s portrayal allowed Jane to be flawed, multi-faceted in her complexity, to the extent, at which, exposing Mr Rochester as a truly rigid and canvased enigma of a man. Devastated and defeated, yet hopeful and triumphant, in equal measure, the National Theatre’s ‘Jane Eyre’ was stunning, shocking and soaring.

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      Review Pink Mist Sherman Theatre by Lauren Ellis-Stretch

      4 Stars4 / 5

      Pink Mist, Owen Sheer’s highly acclaimed verse-drama, follows three cocksure Bristolian teens as they venture out of their mundane lives and into military, service and manhood. It is a story passed from generation to generation. What is duty and honour?

      There is a reading below of Laurens review to listen to.

      When discussing a piece of theatre – in those post-show discussions, with friends, when you are so casually trying to assert your immensely dominate intellectualism and philosophical nature over them – there always seems to be that continuous occurrence of certain words within your vocabulary, or maybe that repetition just shows my own intellect… but, to me, Pink Mist is simply beautiful. Beautiful, bold, and stunning. Heartrending, really.

      Pink Mist is alight. Flickering then scorching, but that’s just good theatre, really. It is Sheers, however, that kindles the human psych through his poetry. I say poetry, not poetic language, not verse-drama, or monologue, because Sheers is massively contributing to the changing face of contemporary poetry. In a recent interview with Owen Sheers, he claimed that young people bring an electricity and an energy that cannot be compared, as audience members. It’s true. The school-trippers were out in mass, and they jumped, and they cried, and one girl gave the most, devotedly, dramatic gasp, I’ve ever heard! I’ve never seen an audience so willing to stand on their feet, other than in a school hall for their grandchildren. Teenagers really feel when given an outlet to do so. Young people really invest in stories, they’re less restrained and emotionally analytical, and they’re waiting for their own to begin. In Pink Mist that Sheers gives an extraordinary level of investment and empathy to the voices of these young people.

      George Mann’s movement is captivating, compassionate and spirited. Technical aspects stimulated a sensory bombardment and affirmation. Both give scope to the artistic possibilities which the piece, furthermore, inspires. The piece, somewhat, enigmatic and abstract proves to challenge the given understanding, the status quo and the audience’s perception. And that’s why, I think, young people can fly with the piece. We’re spoon fed too much in today’s media. We’re capable of discovery because it is demanded by art – it is, and we are, more than the memorising and compressing of facts into some soul-devouring mock essay question that serves, actually, very little purpose to our society, to be honest with you.

      Dan Krikler exudes charisma, Alex Stedman’s warmth, as an actor, is exemplary, and Peter Edwards’s Taff stands as perhaps the most endearing of all. However, the women of this piece, Rebecca Hamilton, Rebecca Kilick, and Zara Ramm, are exceptionally wholehearted; commanding a platform as pronounced as that of the boys’. The cast are one unity, a compact driving force. Yet, they’re either in isolation, or serving the microcosm which could deny a, certain, compulsive empathy. Perhaps it is through a dynamic distancing that provides an intensity, otherwise unattainable. So, I didn’t leave the theatre distraught, that night, like some very emotional valley girls (which was, actually, really funny), but I left upset; with a contentment in the knowledge that Pink Mist is a societal tragedy.

      Pink Mist Tour
      National Tour
      31 Jan – 1 Apr 2017

      Presented by Nick Williams Productions

      31 Jan-1 Feb, Aberystwth Arts Centre
      2-4 Feb, Sherman Theatre, Cardiff
      7-9 Feb, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
      14-18 Feb, Oxford Playhouse
      23-25 Feb, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
      7-11 Mar, Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne
      14 Mar, Pontio, Bangor
      17-18 Mar, Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea
      20-21 Mar, Theatre Royal Winchester
      23-25 Mar, Birmingham Rep
      28 Mar-1 Apr, West Yorkshire Playhouse

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        An Interview with Owen Sheers by Lauren Ellis-Stretch

        Owen Sheers is one of the leading contemporary writers, in Britain, today, a Professor in Creativity at Swansea University, and my immediate go-to subject of conversation when I don’t want to do any work in English lessons. Sheers was the first writer in residence at the Welsh Rugby Union – the first of any national rugby union team – which resulted in the publication of ‘Calon’ his non-fiction work on the Welsh team. His professional positions have included being Writer in Residence at The Wordsworth Trust and a 2007/08 Dorothy and Lewis B, Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library. So, with works varying from poetry, to novels and drama, said accolades, and praise for ‘contemporary literature’s renaissance man’ is hardly surprising. But, for me it is Sheer’s stage adaption of his original verse drama, ‘Pink Mist’, commissioned for Radio 4, that currently has me enthused! After speaking with Owen Sheers I ran to tell my friends how amazing he is and how beautiful his ‘phone voice’ is. I’m a groupie.

        Originally, as you wrote primarily as a poet, do you feel like you come to all your work as a poet?

        I used to say that ‘I feel like a poet writing in other forms’; I think sometimes that’s still true. So, with something like ‘Pink Mist’ it’s very much, it’s a poet’s play, and actually, in some ways, it feels like my closest relationship with poetry that I’ve had for a long time, because it’s verse drama. It relies very much on rhythm and rhyme and metaphor, but, I suppose, in the model of the dramatic monologue, the retrospect of the dramatic monologue. With ‘Pink Mist’ I very much feel like a poet writing for the theatre. I think what changed me recently was my last novel, ‘I Saw a Man’, where I realised that novels are such wonderful, but difficult beasts, that, actually, you have to feel like a novelist writing a novel, and I wanted ‘I Saw a Man’ to be a different kind work of fiction for me. I think my previous fiction, ‘Resistance’, ‘The Dust Diaries’, you could possibly describe them as being, I guess, a poet’s novels. But I wanted that ‘I Saw a Man’ to feel like a novelist’s novel, and I hope that the story, the book, and the way that the book is structured actually plays with the ideal of the novel, so it was really important to take that fuller step into fiction. So, maybe it’s starting to change for me, and actually funny enough I’ve just finished a second draft of a new play where I wanted to experiment with exactly that – I wanted to write a play as a playwright. Unlike my previous theatrical works which tend to have lots of soliloquys and monologues and a certain lyrical tone, this new play that I’ve just finished is very much dialogue driven and plot-driven, and it’s more like what you would define as a conventional play. I think I am in an interesting period of experimenting stepping more fully out of a poet’s shoes.

        How was adapting a verse drama to the stage?

        The fact that it was commissioned for radio first, I think, was very significant as with radio you are writing for the ear. And so, it felt instinctive to me to do, to write something that was lyrical but that was also to be very much oral story-telling, and that painted the pictures in a listener’s mind as that was all they got, the voice. But, also, because it’s a play where I’m trying to harness and be at conflict with the voices of others then that also can lean towards drama as it allowed me to invent characters, to invent language but all of it grounded in these thirty interviews that I did, to inform the piece. It sounds paradoxical but when the artifice is turned up – in a verse drama – I think, actually, in some ways, it becomes more accessible, it feels more relating to those original voices. Really the challenge to put it onto stage wasn’t mine, but the directors’. How do you take a play for voices and dramatise it? And that’s where, and I’m not just saying this, I think that the directors John Retallack and George Mann have done an extraordinary job, cause, I mean, it could have easily have been a mess! They’ve not only done it so sensitively but they’ve found a physical language and a dramatic language which feels completely inherited from that style of poetry – which is poetry, but which is grown from everyday speech. The movement in the piece is extraordinary; I could watch it all day long. Every single move you can see how it relates back to an everyday action. To be honest, the challenge, it lay very much with the director and the cast, and I suppose that’s how you can feel very lucky in theatre, when writing, cause you kind of hand over this thing which is blessing and a curse!

        How much do you value the accessibility of your work, particularly with young people? And, do you think that poetry needs to be more accessible, or that people need to rise to poetry?

        I think it’s both, I mean, I don’t think poetry should be more accessible because I think that you shouldn’t have, to have, the word ‘should’ in literature. A writer can do what they want. Then your job is to do it well, whatever your choices are. But, I think that what we think of as being accessible is sometimes not right and not true. ‘Pink Mist’ is a fine example, actually. All the way through to get it published as a book, to get it put on the stage has been a struggle because the conventional, cultural gatekeepers were quite resistant to the idea of a verse drama. They thought it would be alienating, it would be obscure, and where ‘Pink Mist’ found it’s the first audience was in schools and with university students, and I think with people who didn’t have any pre-conceptions about ‘Oh, verse drama, that sounds a bit strange’, they just responded to it. I think, for them, what was interesting was that they weren’t thinking of T.S Eliot, but they were thinking much more of Kate Tempest, and rap and spoken-word poetry. So, what I say is that I don’t think that we should go into things thinking ‘Is it successful, is it not?’ cause sometimes we’ll be surprised, you know. Something that verse drama does is that it is accessible, not necessarily on a level of meaning, but on a level of rhythm, on this subterranean level of communication. Is it important? It’s all in my work, I’ve always tried to broaden the reach in terms of audience, and broaden the depth. Going back to plays like ‘The Two Worlds of Charlie F’, my year with the Welsh Rugby Union, a lot of that wasabout both attracting the audiences, but showing both existing audiences that ‘actually, you know what, all of us can get this.’ There’s no magic trick. If it’s good stuff then people are, hopefully, emotionally moved and they’re made to think, whatever their background. That’s what is so important about this tour, for me, is that when ‘Pink Mist’ happened at Bristol Old Vic that was great but I really wanted it to get out – well I certainly wanted it to come to Wales, obviously being Welsh. I wanted it to get out to regional towns and cities where, in terms of young men and women, they are choosing to join the army, sometimes as a last option, sometimes because it’s offering things that everyday life isn’t; that can be anything from belonging to just the regular pay packet. It’s in these regional cities where people are really experiencing that the most, and so I was really keen, for ‘Pink Mist’, to travel to these places where, hopefully, the story will resonate as still something very current. So, yes, the answer is young people, with this play, are very important to me, but they’re also important to the play. When I’ve sat in theatres and there’s a younger audience you feel the energy of the play change, cause it’s a play about seventeen and eighteen year olds, and if you’ve got lots of them in the audience it’s just electric. It’s great.   

        Would you consider writing work specifically targeted at young people, in the future?

        Well, I think the important thing to say is that I didn’t target ‘Pink Mist’ at young people and teenagers. The story of the play is one that concerns them, but I think that I am constantly wrong-footed when I go into schools! If I try and, you know, pitch something which is what I think that age group’s level is, they always prove me wrong. ‘Uh uh, it’s way higher mate, it’s way higher.’ So, I’ve learnt that young people and teenagers are perfectly capable of absorbing and responding to plays written for adults – partly because I think it’s when you’re a teenager that you’re feeling and thinking about a world in a particularly vivid way. I quite often think that you care in a way that, sometimes, older people stop doing, which is a shame. But, I suppose yes, I keep wanting to write material and write plays that teenagers and young people feel are equally for them as they are for anyone else. I have started working a piece which is about young boys that were trafficked from Afghanistan to Britain when they were ten or eleven, and now at the age of seventeen, eighteen they’re being faced with deportation; I suppose that is a young person’s story.

        Do you have any words of wisdom for young people who want be to artists, who want to create and tell stories?

        Yes, well I don’t know if it’s words of wisdom, exactly, but I’d say, firstly, immerse yourself in the art form that you want to excel at. So, if you want to be a playwright see lots of theatre, read lots of theatre. If you want to be a poet, read lots of poetry. You want to be a film maker? Watch films, not just as a passive viewer but as a film maker. Look, how are people doing this? Watch the current language of the day. I’m always amazed at how many people want to be writers, and you ask them what they’re reading and they’re not reading very much. You wouldn’t imagine a rugby player who never watched rugby. Secondly, if you’re sure this is what you want to do, it is for you. The arts still, in Britain, I hope, there should be no barriers to entry, and I think on the whole there isn’t – there are still ways that people can be supported to enter the arts. It’s a very old thing what I’m going to say, it’s nothing particularly wise, but you know, work bloody hard. I still get rejected! Sometimes it’s for the right reasons, and sometimes it’s because someone’s not seeing it – which is then your job to make them see it. Immerse yourself in your art form, work hard, do believe it’s for you and believe that you can do it. Nearly every piece of work I’ve done it has been started with people telling me no. So, you’ve got to be quite stubborn!

        How important is it, for you, to be a ‘Welsh’ writer?

        Well, it’s an important part of my life, but that’s for me, because I am Welsh, and we all have an attachment to the physical landscape and the cultural landscape that we’re brought up in. But, what I don’t like is Nationalism, or jingoism. And I don’t like any narrowing of the horizons, artistically, through nationalities. It might sound like I’m spitting hairs but I quite often describe myself as a writer from Wales, because that seems truer to me – I am both. In terms of my family, and where I live, I’m from Wales, and how I was formed, I am from Wales, but to say I’m a Welsh writer is… I don’t want to be defined by borders. We partly write so we can write about anything, and we want to write stuff that people respond to everywhere. In Wales, of course, you’ve also got to be aware of saying that you’re a Welsh writer, and when you’re not writing in Welsh, then you’re not entirely describing it truthfully. ‘So, yeah, a writer from Wales.’ W. H. Auden once said that ‘A poet should aspire to be like a good cheese – locally produced, but internationally renowned.’ It’s an odd quote but that’s kind of what I aspire to. I think in terms of influence of the work, yeah of course. A lot of some of my earlier favourite writers were Welsh – the early poets who told me to keep going, keeping trying, like Dannie Abse and Robert Minhinnick were all Welsh. It’s where I first met the arts and saw theatre, so it can’t help but have an influence; I think the Welsh landscape has always influenced me, even when I haven’t lived here.

        Although I was left unsuccessful in getting anywhere near to an actual definition, Sheers insists that it is the title’s ambiguity that spirals dramatic intensity.

        It should, hopefully, come at you in the play.  It’s a title that is designed to slightly wrong-foot the audience. Every conflict produces its own vocabulary, its own lexicon, and ‘pink mist’ was a term that I heard several times from the young men, the young wounded soldiers that I was interviewing. It refers to an element of modern warfare, the asymmetry in warfare.

        I think that once you know what it is, it changes from being something vague that sounds quite light to being something, really, very dark and sinister. But, it’s a title I had to fight for. When it was originally commissioned for Radio 4, right up to the control room, they didn’t want to use that title. And, at one point, probably, slightly over-dramatically, I literally down tooled, I stopped writing. ‘I’m not going to finish this play unless I’m allowed to call it ‘Pink Mist.’ So, then they relented and let me call it ‘Pink Mist.’

        After informing Owen of the unfortunate conclusion many schools have had to come to –crippled (culturally and artistically) by the demand for high grades and league table success – regarding the expulsion of GCSE English Literature, for many students, this is what he had to say.

        I think that’s terrible. The two go hand-in-hand. How are you going to develop English Language without the example of the rest of it in English Literature? Everyone can find a way into it (literature), and if a kid can’t find a way into it then that’s just bad teaching. As you can tell I feel pretty strongly about that, and I didn’t know that actually. In terms of studied – it’s a huge honour, because I’m aware that I met, I got to read poetry, like a lot of people, for the first time as part of studying, so, again, it’s a huge privilege. And, I’m quite humbled by it, actually. I think it’s very different being studied as to being read, and I would always rather be read. And, I would argue that that’s always the best form of study. It’s strange in the modern world because students can contact you, on Facebook, on Twitter, and via your website, and I’m still figuring out how best to deal with that. I think, if someone asked me a serious and a good question then I’ll always answer. But, actually, it should only be the work that they’re responding to, not me. I do try to still go into schools a lot, you know, I never had a writer come into school when I was there, and it’s great for the writers, and hopefully great for the schools as well. It’s a huge privilege being studied. I sometimes find myself apologising to students, ‘Ohh we have to study your book…’ ‘Well I’m sorry, sorry it’s me, but you’ve got to study someone!’

        A review of ‘Pink Mist’ is still to come. Stay tuned my homies… (Mrs Harris)

        All production shots of ‘Pink Mist’ were taken by Mark Douet.

        Show Times of ‘Pink Mist’ at the Sherman Theatre include: Thursday – 7:30, Friday – 7:30, Saturday – 2:30/7:30

        Pink Mist Tour
        National Tour
        31 Jan – 1 Apr 2017

        Presented by Nick Williams Productions

        31 Jan-1 Feb, Aberystwth Arts Centre
        2-4 Feb, Sherman Theatre, Cardiff
        7-9 Feb, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
        14-18 Feb, Oxford Playhouse
        23-25 Feb, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
        7-11 Mar, Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne
        14 Mar, Pontio, Bangor
        17-18 Mar, Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea
        20-21 Mar, Theatre Royal Winchester
        23-25 Mar, Birmingham Rep
        28 Mar-1 Apr, West Yorkshire Playhouse

        By Owen Sheers

        Directed by John Retallack and George Mann

        Designer Emma Cains

        Lighting Designer Peter Harrison

        Sound Designer Jon Nicholls

        Cast

        Peter Edwards

        Rebecca Hamilton

        Rebecca Killick

        Dan Krikler

        Zara Ramm

        Alex Stedman

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          Review ‘Love Steals us from Loneliness’ Chippy Lane Productions by Lauren Ellis-Stretch

           

          msxauh2i

          4 Stars4 / 5

           

          With a whole-hearted fight for love, and the striving to live better, an undercurrent of anger surges. Love Steals us from Loneliness resonates with me. I know girls who have lost more than their sunglasses down Rest Bay, if you get what I mean. And the boys who take girls down Rest Bay. Teens wholly obsessed, as well as desperately dismissing of their own sexuality. But, I also know what it feels like to be stuck in a town where you have to actively try to ‘live’ to be heard, or validated… or at least feel that way.

          ‘Are you enjoying?’ A pleasant, South Walian, fifty-something woman assailed us with, in the interval. My friend, Richard, and I smirked. ‘Yes,’ we are teenagers, and we know more than you think. ‘A lot of swearing.’ (I raised my eyebrows.) ‘I saw another play by the guy who wrote this! Ahh what was his name?’…’Gary Owen’ (I smiled.) ‘Ohh yeah, love, that’s the one. And we went to go and watch that one … Ohh, well I call it I-fe-jean-ia in Splott!’ ‘Ohh yeah, Ef-i-gen-ia in Splott. ‘That’s what my fancy friend calls it!’ ‘Yeah, it was great.’ I can almost imagine that this is, somewhat, an interaction that Gary Owen, in a nod to its obstructive nature could have seamlessly written – much better than how it actually happened. An illustration of youth’s cockiness, and an honest, Welsh admission of self. Together disastrous; already displayed in the infamous events that puts Bridgend ‘a known shit-hole’ on the map. But, instead he wrote Love Steals us from Loneliness – which is more entertainingly profound.

          ‘A strop off’ on a shit night out, steaming. It’s a Friday night in Bridgend littered by ‘Townies’ and ‘Valley Commandos’. Gary Owen’s perceptiveness to the backwards little town is unique, exposing and admiring its culture and people for all their defensive and insecurity. Owen offers a reflection of a society that challenges and adheres to everything we know it to be – I think that’s what theatre should be. Always close to home, in some respect. But why, I need ask, is this teenage obsession with love permeating through a text disputing its very significance and authenticity? Actually, it’s probably because of the imprisonment, self-deprecation, and the belief in our own insignificance that Bridgend, and South Wales alike, breeds. But, no one’s ever quick to discuss that. Act 2 is a disjointed outburst of spiting and spluttering and biting. Melancholic, life-affirming joy – like the sun’s rays landing on piles of shit. Love Steals us from Loneliness is a beautiful two-hander about survival.

          ‘I’m about to make a bold statement.’ Now, normally Richard refrains from any form of judgement, or any (highly – in my experience) critical response until, at least, we’ve reached the carpark. He’s got manners, like. ‘That woman,’ he says, ‘just gave the best performance I have ever seen in my entire life.’ Emma Jane Goodwin was exceptional. Exhaustingly fuelled, anguished and unapologetic. Mags is someone we know. She is a Bridgend mum – we know them. The whole cast were captivating. Headed by the striking Evelyn Campbell squatting for a wee, and the standards didn’t slip.

          Emma Bailey’s gaudy glam and desolate set design seamlessly encompasses the plays consciously empathetic adoration for its own characters. With a ‘karaoke stage’ and a platform for drunken conversations – Bridgend goes to Benidorm. But, with a stage littered by the debris of a truthful existence. It’s all revealed as just an ‘act’ of a ‘living’ that we try to create. In adolescence we try to tear everything down and in adulthood you try to hoist it back up, but it happens the other way around.

          We should give our parents more credit. Mum, Dad we get why you stayed up with us from 2am-7am after that one night out. So, we get why you were angry about it – it wasn’t because you didn’t get any sleep. We’re not sorry, but thank you.

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            Review The Weir, The Sherman Theatre by Lauren Ellis-Stretch

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            Valerie – Orla Fitzgerald | Jim – Richard Clements | Finbar – Steven Elliott | Brendan – Patrick Moy | Jack – Simon Wolfe (C) Camilla Adams — at Sherman Theatre.

            4 Stars4 / 5 The Weir is encapsulating.

            On a blustering night deep within the mystic Irish countryside, even in the comfort of community, friendship and booze there is little to be certain of. Conor McPherson’s ‘The Weir’ is a triumph in story-telling, and under the masterful direction of Rachel O’Riordan is not only chilling but compelling.

            There is an odd contentment in the solace of shared experiences, and at the Sherman Theatre, on stage or off, the atmosphere was electrifyingly fused – it didn’t seem so nightmarish to be sat with strangers on either side. O’Riordan’s direction is so seamless that it thrusts and drags and clasps you into submission, before any digestion of what is happening. The audience were left desperate, grasping at any silence that could be appropriately filled with laughter.

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            Finbar – Steven Elliott | Valerie – Orla Fitzgerald (C) Camilla Adams — at Sherman Theatre.

            To perform a piece stepped in Irish heritage and folk-law to a metropolitan audience in Wales’ capital, and have it received so graciously is a testament to its actors and their craft in story-telling. It is a two-sided agreement in which audiences must venture beyond ‘Les Mis’ and ‘Grease’, and all that inhabits their comfort zone to access unfamiliar culture. And, equally responsible, the Sherman Theatre, as well as various other art centres within Wales are evolving the country’s arts scene, in their community events and outreach programmes; offering a way out of our ostracised communities, and incestuous thinking.

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            Jim – Richard Clements | Jack – Simon Wolfe (C) Camilla Adams — at Sherman Theatre.

            In Simon Wolfe’s execution of Jack there lies a particular tactful ferocity and subtlety. He is not once stereotyped or pre-empted, he is a man with principals, honour, and regret. Orla Fitzgerald as Valerie is wispy and engaging and proves less is more in her self-contained torture. She is humbling to watch. As a cast, Richard Clements, Steven Elliott, Orla Fitzgerald, Simon Wolfe, and Patrick Moy are sublime, generous and wholly complimenting as one. As each character took to share their own story, all around them would soften and their faces would become beacons in the darkness – you would go everywhere with them.

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            Valerie – Orla Fitzgerald | Jack – Simon Wolfe – Brendan – Patrtick Moy (C) Camilla Adams — at Sherman Theatre.

            Designer Kenny Miller’s staging is bare and simplistic offering comfortability in a no clutter/bull shit ruling for the piece.

            The Weir is truthful and raw, and is exactly what is needed to counter-act any audience’s consuming of ‘TOWIE’ or one of the many Kardashian spin-off series. It is a classic of contemporary theatre; empathetic, voyeuristic, and unnerving.

            The Weir will be playing at the Sherman until the 22/10/16. It then transfers to the Tobacco Factory in Bristol 25 Oct -05 Nov 2016.

            http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/performance/theatre/the-weir/

            The Weir

             

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              Interview with Assistant Director of The Weir, Chelsey Gillard.

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              Chelsey Gillard

              Get the Chance Young Critic Lauren Ellis-Stretch recently got the chance to chat to Chelsey Gillard Assistant Director of The Weir currently playing at The Sherman Theatre. They discussed her journey and experiences as a young director, generous tipping of bar staff, and the basis of the show itself.

              What is the Weir about, for you?

              ‘Ahh -this is such a tough question. The Weir is such a multi-layered play that covers so many huge topics – the supernatural, grief, the depopulation of Rural Ireland, love…. the list goes on. At it’s heart I feel the play is about the ways we connect with each other as human beings and how we chose to relate to the natural world around us. Little acts of kindness play a huge role in the script and I really think it is telling us to do those things for others when we possibly can.

              Through what training and experiences have you come to be an assistant director at the Sherman?

              ‘I applied to be the assistant director and had to attend an interview. Before this I have directed my own work and also been an assistant director for various venues and directors. This is my first time working at The Sherman on a main stage production. I studied English and Drama at university, all through my degree and in the two years since graduating I saw as much theatre as possible and tried to meet as many directors as possible to ask their advice on how to do what they do. Before that I was also a critic – a great way to see shows and think about them in a considered and logical way.

              A video of Chelsey Gillard and Rachel Williams presenting at the National Rural Touring Forum on Bridgend Young Critics Project.

              How did you prepare yourself for the role of assistant director on this piece?

              ‘I read the play – many, many, many times. I made lots of notes on the play looking for any parts that were of particular interest to me. The play takes place in a bar so I also made notes about who had what drinks and who paid for each round and other details that would be useful in the rehearsal room. As the play is also set in Ireland I did a lot of research about the kind of area the characters live in and the folklore that is mentioned in the play.’

              Do you have an impressive ‘bar’ story?

              ‘Oh, I’m not sure. As a young freelance director I have to sometimes work other jobs to help pay the bills, so I will sometimes work as a bartender for one off events. When I was working at a really posh wedding the father of the bride decided he liked me – as my name is the same as his favourite football team. So thanks to my name I left that wedding with a crate of the most delicious red wine I’ve ever tried as well as a great tip!’

              Is there anything specific you have learnt and will take from your time working on this play?

              ‘I’ve learnt so much watching Rachel O’Riordan the show’s director and Artistic Director of The Sherman Theatre in the rehearsal room – she is just amazing! It’s been great to see how to usefully bring lots of research into the rehearsal process in a way that is useful to the actors. I’ve also never worked on a stage the size of the Sherman main stage so that has been a really good chance to pick up tips on how to make a show feel really intimate even when it’s in a big space.’

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              Artistic Director of The Sherman Theatre and director of The Weir  Rachel O’Riordan (centre) with the cast of The Weir in rehearsals.

              The Weir will be playing at the Sherman until the 22/10/16. It then transfers to the Tobacco Factory in Bristol 25 Oct -05 Nov 2016.

              http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/performance/theatre/the-weir/

              The Weir

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                Review, Not I and Scorch, Sherman Theatre by Lauren Ellis-Stretch

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                4 Stars4 / 5

                An audience constrained and submerged. Betty Jane Walsh graces a Beckett classic and leaves her audience weightless, like a punch bag.

                Admittedly I will confess that until this evening I had never watched or ever read a Samuel Beckett play, so I don’t know if it’s normal to find one’s self in a state of fervent suffocation. Although written in 1972 the date is irrelevant Patricia Logue proves that Not I is timeless, unfortunately.

                Walsh relentlessly grasps at a language of ferocity and intention transfixing an audience, enticed by her mouth, for the entire piece. In thirteen minutes we’ve lived a life, however messy and misunderstood – a hurricane of passion slammed into your chest. Not I pierces and cries of that lost, but leaves only an awe for the resilience of a woman.

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                Scorch

                5 Stars5 / 5

                Scorch is electrifying. It alights, and it shocks and it launches you, and it takes no prisoners.

                Kessy and Kez are two very different people. Self-confessing and selfless. Simple and complex. True and false. Female and Male. We’re all just chasing happiness. But, what happens when we play within the vortex of a technological stimulated world?

                Emma Jordan stimulates a circle of trust and the truth. Congregated around a grey carpet on a black stool, infected by an optimism and energy, Amy McAllister consumed me, as well as entire audience. We smirked and laughed as we saw clarity within the murk of a societal taboo – ‘you’re nodding!’ McAllister rejoiced. Never have I wanted an actor to look me in the eyes more than Amy McAllister. She was fierce without anguish, and she was light without compromise. She is your friend.

                Sharp, succinct and slashing in movement. Choreography by Nicola Curry frees and enthrals, but always beats with the raging undercurrent of sexual identity and gender fluidity confessed.

                Stacey Gregg’s words run. They drive and they dig and they stick. In the fragmented speech of a teenage stirring, Kez is heard clearly, bound to his knowing of self – dialogue erupts and translates a tale of our generation. Gregg exposes a sheer insignificance of your life, yet grounds and cements you in your very being, all at the same time. If all writers were as generous as Gregg, and all writing was of such sincerity, and humanity, the world might become a better place.

                This season at the Sherman has already proved to be epic – don’t miss any of it.

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                  Young Artists Festival 2016, The Other Room by Lauren Ellis-Stretch

                   

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                  5 Stars5 / 5

                  The Other Room Theatre, founded in 2014, is not only Cardiff’s first pub-theatre, but it is a platform for all theatre creatives in Cardiff to produce, showcase, and be showcased as exciting, emerging artists, in their own right. Also, did I mention that they are Fringe Theatre of the Year? This year’s cohort (the second to tread the, alcoholically doused, boards of Porter’s bar) certainly held a prestige in being there. The festival itself only reflects what The Other Room already embodies in its very existence: collaboration, support and exploration; a platform, a place where you land your first job. As participants of, not only, an intense work-shopping programme but a profit share job, the young artists finished the week with enough of the box office profits to forget the majority of the days before by paying their round at the bar. Young director, Bruno Chavez, (previously involved in the 2015 festival as a writer) beautifully articulated, when expressing his own experiences with TOR, that ‘The festival is a purified version of what theatre is.’ Bruno, as well as young writer Susan Monkton (previously an acting participant), are proof of TOR’s undeniable devotion to their community. And, after director Kate Wasserberg’s declared, on the very first day, ‘You’re our guys now’ the sentiment became only more solidified.

                  In order to respond to the festival with the respect and admiration that I hold for it, and everyone involved, demanded from me was a personal investment – a vulnerability and an immersion. I began writing a play about garden gnomes, I played a ‘dramatised’ game of ‘Never have I ever’, and began to develop a directorial eye for pioneering, new theatre. But, I never f***ed the chair… So, yes, I now hold very little objectivity, but the The Other Room’s dedicated ethos in its love for artists is infectious.

                  It seems only apt that TOR team would open the festival, Monday morning, with an introduction to starting a company from scratch. Something emphasised by every industry professional from Tamara Harvey (Artistic Director of Theatr Clwyd) to Gemma McAvoy (Agent from Emptage and Hallett) was the roots accessible to an emerging artist, and a desire to empower the individuals. Unfortunately, if I were to delve as far as I would like, into all the insightful workshops we have experienced this week, this would end up resembling a governmental report, so that’s not happening. However, highlighted by Tamara and Kate was a need for equality within our industry (not only as female directors but as parents, regardless of gender); it is something that I’d like to reiterate. Following http://www.pipacampaign.com/, provides support to the Parents in Performing Arts campaign, allowing equal opportunities and access for parents and carers working in the performing arts. Now, for any aspiring theatre makers, to gain just some of the knowledge and empowerment that the chosen 40 artists involved in the festival have acquired, the following websites are not to be overlooked: https://www.equity.org.uk/home/ and http://www.arts.wales/. Of course, you could just sign up for next year’s festival. Stay posted via http://www.otherroomtheatre.com/en/.

                  Acting, writing, stage management and directing are professions massively stigmatised, and consequently individuals succumb to a generalised stereotype. The stereotype is wholly valid… Stereotypically, they are rule-breaker. Artists – they deify revolution, eccentricity and creation! Required for such demanding crafts are: specifically unique individuals, indispensable in their, collaborative, quest for creation. So, these people, that is what this article and this festival is all about.

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                  Most of the week culminates to the formation of the artistic companies and their performances of new, ten minute, plays written by acclaimed playwrights; Joel Horwood, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Lisa Jen, Alun Saunders and Sam Burns. Shadowing these companies has not only been insightful, but a lot of fun! At this point I would like to throw a shout out to Porthcawl Comp who let me chill in a bar all week, in the name of work experience – you the real MVP. So, without any further ado, here’s what the companies did, and how that became to be.

                   

                  Mirror Loop – Morgan Lloyd Malcolm

                  A primal uproar against society’s shredding and crippling expectations. As women continue to precipitate actions of self-deprecation and disbelief in ability we subject the next generation to the cycle. The unity of women in a palindrome of a script. Of course, we could also see the piece as a comparison between the mid-life crisis and the intoxicated, purposeless 20 something.

                  What really struck me about this company, led by Seren Vickers, was the call for an open dialogue and conversation. As a response to this, actors, Andrea Edwards and Alexandra Lewis clearly embedded their souls, in a devotion to the truth within this piece of feminist prose. The scattering of a character’s direction, thoughts and inanimate props seamlessly fuel an uprising for something more.

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                  Look Up – Nicola Reynolds

                  Thought provokingly normal. All of us have had conversations which hold a clear resemblance to that of these characters’. We all have experienced, or can acknowledge, a friendship with unexplainable depth; how much do we, and can we, actually understand? And, should we be questioning the societal demands to talk ‘Game of Thrones’ around confessional suicidal thoughts. Susie Gale and Lauren Page, in the space of days, were able to develop an unwavering bond that bred a very real and tangible world within The Other Room.

                  The bleakness of an exposed hate, post-EU Referendum, the indifference to prior civil awakenings, and the objectification of a society’s primped and preened as sexual props. A constant agitation, an uprising within one’s self simply leaving only an ugly aggressor. ‘I’m twenty two and I’m so tired.’ It isn’t too extravagant of a statement, really.

                  A piece demanding in such an investment from one’s self (a vulnerability to be showcased) also demanded a directorial nurturing – with compassionately insistent nudges Nicola Reynolds urged and empowered her actors to be able to ‘pick it up,’ by themselves – resulting in a flawless performance.

                  The Ugly Pen – Sam Burns

                  The timeless story of how ugly boy meets ugly girl.

                  In a societal info structure of discrimination and oppression those who stand up are the ‘ugos’. As an audience positioned to be inactive, unaffected ‘tourists’, Sam Burns and this company dare to question our responsibility to accept and cherish all within our society. So, the cast defiant, and unrefined, challenge us. As the four cast members stand within their chalked ‘ugly pen’, their entitled ‘environment’, what cannot be suppressed is their voice of antagonism, as the characters insuppressibly narrate their stories.

                  For this cast, perhaps the most blatant, if not most challenging, of obstacles was their own attractiveness. Yet, alike a blinding charisma – counteracting a director’s, somewhat, restricting vision – their gurning faces shone through a window (coverall hole) of opportunity.

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                  You Make Me – Joel Horwood

                  Tobias Weatherburn and Rebecca Ormorod are tireless fabricators of energy. Director Emily Stroud offered an open plane for exploration – evident in a mutual vision of their story as a (brave) freed movement allowed actors to thrive.

                  Horwood’s script holds matter to the derailed relationship – what will be the inerasable snapshots in the aftermath? Nostalgia has become a cultural phenomenon. Facebook memories, snapchat, timehop, Horwood and the company suggest that it’s not just a self-indulgence but a self-inflicted spiralling of regret and, with a scattering of joy, an inevitable sadness. With the cast’s domineering presence it hauls an immediacy of passion.

                  Frozen – Lisa Jen

                  Strikingly real, relevant and receptive. Bruno Chavez simplistically stages the offensive stamp of a Western civilisation upon a broken people. Through its dialogue is an exposed brutality, torment and desperation, captivatingly delivered in Melanie Steven’s (symbolically) broken English, but through Disney’s lyrical genius it swells in gravity.

                  My first interaction with this group included a frenzied, exploration of youth with cast member Carys McQueen. Yes, we danced to ‘For the First Time in Forever’, and it was art. But, now, ‘Open up the gate’ will never sound as self-possessed, or melodic, to audiences as it was before. From young Rima’s wandering escapism to her mother’s entrapment, both actors selflessly stripped inhibitions raw. A desperation – in Carys’ fixation and Melanie’s stare -, and an intensity of character than only a subjection to abject horror can bring. An essential provocation.

                  Blue Sky Thinking – Alun Saunders

                  People, bacon, insecurity. What does any of it really mean? Seriously, it would make my job a lot easier. However, in the uncertainty is its charm. Frederick Wienand confines his actors to a self-containment of character as they interweave monologue. The performance itself exudes an air of philosophical debate. Through all the societal questioning, the cast master a comedy eased from simplicity and truthfulness. A coincidental humour in coincidental lives.

                  ‘What is in the script, and what have we invented?’ A question posed by, actor and mentor to the artists, Steffan Rhodri. Not only for a progression in the script’s direction, but also as an existential question for the characters. What boundaries do draw, what mechanisms do we develop, how do we structure humanity?  Engaging and endearing.

                  A Play That Isn’t About Sex – Joel Horwood

                  I have spent days in tormenting deliberation as to how I could express my love for this group without sounding perverted… the eternal struggle. This group exposed themselves in a way in which I have never seen people soberly do – this circle of trust stimulated by director Duncan Hallis was almost a testament to humanity.

                  Experimentation and exploration was key to this piece. A use of physicality, embedded and emphasised from the first rehearsal, enabled the symbolising of tyrannical power, or down-trodden vulnerability, or a corrupted youthfulness. Sex in the grand scheme of things? It embodies everyone. It embodies our everyday lives. War, children, food, euphoria, disturbance. The opting to possess a sense of ambiguity within the piece maximised an accessibility to it, as well an acceptance of murky circumstances. Seven exceptional performers with one chair, in unity, highlighted an unquestioned societal morality in the availability of sex as an inanimate exercise. At what age did we begin to sexualise bananas?

                  ‘A Play That Isn’t About Sex’ – Allowing ourselves to feel in an overwhelmingly constructed reality. But, perhaps it’s easier to do when ‘The chair doesn’t have eyes.’

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                  Too often forgotten, but never to be unappreciated in their abilities and dedication are the stage managers. Dunyasha Barrow and Amy Arkle-Jones (mentored by, the festival’s Stage Manager, Steffi Pickering) managed two groups each, in which they took a responsibility for; the sourcing of props and costumes, lighting and sound – all that is technical. Rehearsal reports and call sheets. It is all mind- numbing, so here’s an homage to you guys. Also, there’s young artistic lighting designer Alia Stephen who devotedly lighted every single performance with skillful insight. I’ll move on now, because we all know you’re not ones to relish in the spotlight.

                  Writers – ever enigmatic and elusive – were to emerge on the Friday morning with their plays to offer, each in their own specifically self-deprecating way. From Monday’s workshop with playwright Mathew Bulgo – hospitable in its musing silence and offerings of Haribo Starmix – the young writers began to develop (or birth) their stories. Bulgo, as well as playwrights Gary Owen and Alun Saunders, tutored their writers through the struggles of writers block and finding their own voice. Seamlessly flowing words, the visualisation of text/the creation of something ‘watchable’ – the pinnacle of the craft. They are all very smart, but in addition to that, writers strip themselves to expose a vulnerability, which many artists would never dare to do. But, it’s the sharing – that’s the scary part. But, the love they receive from those they share their pieces with – that’s what they chase. From the corner that I peered from, from the bar stool that I perched on, in every initial reading there was a warmth and a collective of smiles as the gravity of what was happening, and what these pieces symbolised, was digested.

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                  Warlines – Holly Fry

                  Holly, in response to meeting a sincere and personable tramp in London, took to chronicle the strands of such an unfortunate life. A truthfully cutting Welsh voice. In its simplicity and cheery pessimism, a silenced story and people rise. Insightful and intelligent.

                  Angus – Bruno Chavez

                  Daring, unconventional and shameless.

                  Schizophrenia – a mystery to many in its misrepresentation, and ‘taboo’ nature – is tormenting in its clarity, in this striking piece. Demanding in investment, a menagerie of individual response, as well as embodiment and exploration surfaces, for an audience, as well as performers. In their addressing, the audience are torn from their self-contained bubble, and seized.

                  Service Please – Melanie Stevens

                  Melanie Stevens sings the anthem of a people – a people who work in customer service. With a singeing relatability and humour, Melanie encompassed the audience with ease. Within a simple reminder that waitresses are people what surfaces is a profoundly honest, and suppressed outrage.

                  Always Tuesday – Emily Garside

                  A real world full of real people. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine.

                  Emily Garside offers a special relationship – with dark intricacies – and it’s fascinating. Do we just comply with society’s rules of relationships/connecting? And, how meaningful can these ‘approved’ relationships be?

                  Through art and cake we are happy – discussion or involvement in a form of creation, beauty and self-indulgence. (Garside’s piece, intended or not, truly embodies the Young Artists Festival itself.) Of course, vomit too – as a subject – can fasten a connection with human kind. But, through a fear of rejection, or being denied, we discuss soaps instead of mental illness.

                  ‘I’ve tried mindfulness, but I prefer vodka’

                  Bloody Paperwork – Lawrence Quilty

                  Is there truly a humanity behind politics? Politicians. What are they pushed to? Trained to be? I ask because I have no idea. Like, how I assume, many of us feel about politics.

                  Something highlighted in a rehearsal of the piece was the character’s movement. Confined by so many bodies Aiden Glass (MP) can only infiltrate or resign – a life in parliament. But, these people have families. Those families are hounded as the tabloid media stir and agitate within the pot-holes of fear within a nation. Corruption has seeped so deep it has stained even the bed-rock of our democratic nation.

                  Quilty skilfully probes into the intrigue of a plagued and destructive system.

                  Who Was Howell Davies? – Dai Hill

                  Death is awkward. Where is the line when discussing the dead? Perceptive in the exploration of a relationship between father and children, and with a compassion documents the life of a man plagued by his hindrances. A blinding ignorance and naivety in Hill’s characters sources a golden Welsh humour. But, with it comes the undertones of a despondent, misogynist Welsh working class.

                  Beautiful – Susan Monkton

                  A conflict of interest. Rape. Who is to blame?

                  An issue as relevant today as it was for previous generations. A simple misunderstanding, illustrated through destructive, self-assured monologues. Monkton’s twining of dialogue highlights a desired gender equality disregarded by the sports industry. Class, sexism, mental illness all suppressing; whether they silence or provoke is profoundly individual. The actors sat, inactive. In its rehearsed reading Emily Stroud brought a required simplicity to the staging; it is how it is deciphered – true and false.

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                  Lastly, I would just like to thank all the wonderful artists who welcomed me to create with them, and shared their work with me. I don’t doubt that I will see you and your work sometime in the near future, hopefully in The Other Room.

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                    Review Meet Fred, Hijinx Theatre by Lauren Ellis-Stretch

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                    3 Stars3 / 5

                    In Meet Fred, Hijinx Theatre Company skilfully entwine all that is existential – penis jokes to political anguish – through one puppet called Fred. Just go and see it for yourself – It’s apparent simplicity and inclusivity (perfectly mirrored in The Other Room) is its charm.

                    Advocating the collaborative process, not only does the Director (Ben Pettitt-Wade) direct, but he also showcases this role within the play. Fred’s sublime puppetry and movement shows an inspired devotion from Dan McGowan, Morgan Thomas and Craig Quat through harmonious craftsmanship. However, some of the acting (rooted in improvisation) was, consequently, forced but then, quite suddenly, frenziedly unrestrained – as actors stormed out of doors zealous and soap-operaesque. Yet, blazingly Dan McGowan projects his Fred. In fact, it is far too easy to allow yourself immersion in, solely, his performance. Do resist the temptation, the spectacle of meeting Fred is within its unification for artistic illusion/societal awakening.

                    Through Fred, parallels are seamlessly drawn to today’s political climax as the defenceless, in an increasingly self-serving society, are subjected to the status of a puppet. Fred is begrudgingly bearing witness to the rise of the mercenary, or consequently lumped in a box. ‘Don’t blame me, blame the system’ penetrates an air of, too blissful, comedic ease.

                    Pettitt-Wade’s illustration of a messy, ‘self-directed’ life branches from the flourishing/twining set design to the incorporating of the deceivingly metaphoric. A lot of life is incomparable, and unexplainable to others; the cast and crew seem to relish in this conception – ‘Rice is water.’ It rains harder on some.

                    For the cast, sustaining an audience’s full submission with such taxing content: an unfulfilling, tragically ‘acceptable’ and some-what accepted lifestyle of the oppressed is hard – especially as Meet Fred is a play only wholly satisfying after being digested. So, take friends, chuckle at the lavish littering of expletives, and take it for what it is. An oppressed puppet, an oppressed, emerging under-class, or a shout into the void? Hijinx are pioneering in their ability to make innovative, intelligent, inclusive theatre. Challenging stigma; enabling their disabled performers.

                    Type of show: Theatre

                    Title: Meet Fred
                    Venue: The Other Room
                    Dates: 28th
                    Author: Devised by Hijinx Theatre
                    Director: Ben Pettitt-Wade
                    Ben Pettitt-Wade: Director
                    Ceri James: Lighting Designer
                    Tom Ayres: Technician
                    Martin Vick: Stage Manager
                    Dan McGowan: Puppeteer & Voice of ‘Fred’
                    Morgan Thomas: Puppeteer
                    Craig Quat: Puppeteer
                    Lindsay Foster: Lucille and The Maker
                    Richard Newnham: Jack
                    Tom Espina & Giulia Innocenti of Blind Summit: Puppetry Dramaturg
                    Running time: 60mins

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