Rhys Payne

Review Entrée, Jose Pedro Fortuna By Rhys Payne

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

In a one-person performance, there is a lot of pressure on the shoulders of the actor as the whole narrative is told through them and they have to keep the audience engaged and enthused. Which is clearly very difficult but Jose Pedro Fortuna didn’t seem to even hesitate in his one-man production of Entree performed at USW Atrium Theatre.

The plot of this play was pretty simple as it was about a master of ceremonies going to deliver some sort of speech. But as he gets ready start to go wrong and hilarity ensues. This shows a modern and contemporary interpretation of the classic art form of clowning by using magic tricks (which were incredible and mind-blowing to watch) and sound effects. One of the highlights of this concept was a trick where Pedro made a dropped card float from the floor to the top of a ladder where he was stood. This art form (clowning) is fundamentally very comical and Pedro also included traditionally physical theatre tropes such as being stuck in a curtain, the constant dropping of his bow-tie and misplacing props to create a piece of theatre that respected the tradition of clowning while also bringing it to the 21st century.

Pedro decided to make some other creative decisions such as having no dialogue in the entire play, a focus on physical comedy and having it be a nice easy production to watch. Because of all this and the nature of this show, I think the show would work better as a dinner time entertainment in a fancy restaurant rather than in a theatre as a play. Pedro has devised this play so that it built in a logical and natural way. Each prop was introduced in its own sketch before being included in the final set up which was really nice to watch. As a performer, Pedro was entertaining and jovial but also as a magician he was able to manipulate the audience attention and focus so he could perform his sleight of hand trick and certain comedy skits which worked excellently. It was especially fantastic to see the blending of magic and theatre which was a unique blend that I personally had never seen before but I definitely want to see explored again in the future.

This was a thirty-minute show which only added to how easy it was to catch. There were discussions about expanding it to an hour show in the future. This clearly shows how the play is in a sort of developmental phase. On top of this there were feedback forms handed out to find out what the audience enjoyed or not but also a Q and A at the end of the show (which was a fantastic idea as it allowed the audience to find out about the show making process etc) during this we found out that some aspects of the show are improvised and also that Pedro introduces new skills and tricks in different performances. This all means that no two shows of Entree are the same which makes it a very exciting piece of theatre.

In conclusion, Entree is a modern piece of clowning that had the audience laughing throughout. It is a unique show that is one not to miss. I would rate this show 4 out of 5 stars. Entree is a really entertaining piece of theatre that’s shows a side of clowning that many people have not seen before.

Review Just a few words/Stammermouth by Rhys Payne

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Just a Few Words/Stammermouth performed in the Seligman Theatre company in Chapter Arts Centre is one of the most poignant pieces of modern theatre that I have ever seen.

Just a Few Words is a one-man play that gives the audience a real insight into the mind of someone with a stammer. This is a show that tugs of every heartstring and plays with each anD every emotion you have. I think this is mainly due to the excellent choice of actor for this piece who was Nye Russell-Thompson. Russel-Thompson has created an insane amount of likability and authenticity to the character which meant that the audience desperately wanted him to succeed in the task at hand. At one part of the play, there is a ‘musical’ section which was very enjoyable and fun. This added to the surprising amount of comedy that was in play this about a very serious topic.

As this fondness from the audience is developed (due mostly to Russel-Thompso’s portrayal of the character) it makes the sadder sections of the play even more emotional. For example, There is a heart-breaking end to this play that had me (among many other) lost for words and there was a stunned silence for a long time after the play had finished. This end was frustrating at first however I believe the reason for its inclusion was to give a realistic message about life. This play’s main aim is to give a voice to the figurative (a semi-literal) voiceless which is very heartwarming. To see the character struggle to express what he wants to say helps create support from the audience but also brings people with speech disorders. As this show highlights the struggles of living with a stammer it is representing and empowering a group of people who often are ignored in theatre which was incredible to see.

This play fits into, what I like to call, a small theatre genre play. It worked perfectly in the compact theatre of Chapter and I believe that it would not work as well in a big theatre as, at times, feels as if the character is speaking directly to each and every member of the audience which only added to the relatability and likability from the audience. This made the play personal to each person which only exaggerated all the emotions the narrative made you feel.


This show was only an hour-long but when Nye Russell-Thompson was on stage you lose all track of time. He has you hooked every single minute he is there and you forget about time and life outside this theatre. Finally, this was another play that stripped back on all the paraphernalia of theatre and forced the audience attention to solely be on the actor on stage. There were very few movements in the show, the light placement stayed the same throughout the whole duration of the play, there were very few props (excluding the large pile of queue cards to express things when the character could not) and as it was a one-man play there was one actor , and one BSL interpreter on the stage. This made the play even more relatable to the audience but also was a more realistic portrayal of the real-life struggles of having a stammer which shows this play was well-thought-out during its development which shows the talent of its writers. I believe the reason this play fitted so nicely into the small theatre genre of plays is that it was performed in the Edinburgh fringe festival.

In conclusion, Just a Few Words/Stammermouth is an incredible piece of modern theatre that gives a voice to those who are often ignored in theatre and makes the audience feel a vast range of emotions. I hope that this show becomes even more popular and that we will see more of Nye Russell-Thompson in the future. I would rate this production 5 out of 5 stars and I would recommend this play to anyone interested in the power of theatre or anyone interested in the progression of theatre needed for it to become truly accessible to everyone.

Review Much Ado About Nothing, Everyman Theatre, Cardiff by Rhys Payne

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Much Ado About Nothing performed by Everyman Theatre Company, Directed by David Mercatali the Cardiff open-air festival in Sophia Garden’s was a fantastic evening of classic theatre combined with extraordinary comedy.


This show had a somewhat slow start and took a while for the story to establish itself and for the audience to understand who is who and what the general ideas of the play are going to be.

Benard, who played the role of Claudio, appeared to channel a slow-witted sidekick who provided very many of the entertaining moments of this play. His physicality and facial reactions were excellent, he was very comical which had the audience laughing. It was really interesting to see this character portrayed as a side-kick to Benedick and the captain and I think this help establish the character’s position in the group.

Benedick himself, played by Luke Mercent, was a very believable ‘baby-face’ hero. He was a very relatable character while being strong and inspiring from the audience. The really interesting aspect of the character was his monologues. Traditionally, monologues are delivered on the stage as if the character is talking to themselves with the audience ‘overhearing’ it, but this production had the character of Benedick (among others) delivered their monologue within the audience and spoken directly to members of the audience.This makes it much more personal and was a really great inclusion which shows both classic theatre understanding as well as flawless modernisation from a directorial perspective. Glyn Thomas delivered a chillingly scary portrayal of the character ‘Don John’ who is the main villain of the play. His voice was frightening and he expressed the character as methodical and calculating. He personified the character perfectly and could be used as an example of how aspiring actors can play the Shakespearian villains.


One of the most comical characters in this play was dogberry who was played by Sarah Bawler. She performed this role with a strong Welsh accent and was a character of the typical Welsh women. Her chemistry with Verges, played by Phil Gerken, provided many hilarious scenes due to the contrast of the two characters.

Two of the things that this show did excellently was the use of voice and musical instruments. Many of the actors used multiple voices to show how their character really feels. We had characters vocally being scared, in love, excited and over the top fake acting (which was one of the funniest scenes in the entire play.) these were performed clearly and perfectly. The use of instruments was also fantastic as they actually had the performers play on stage. I have seen productions of shows where the actors pretend to play instruments which is obviously fake and distracting for the audience. However, this was not the case for this play and the music itself provide a small break from the complex and deep story-lines of Shakespearian theatre.

Obviously, Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy and so the directors have organised the play accordingly. They managed to perfectly blend the concept of a Shakespearian comedy (where there is a marriage, use of double entendre and irony) with modern comedy (which includes slapstick and physical comedy) to create the perfect comedy play. The reason this is so important to this play is because of the complex use of Shakespearian language, this is not something we are used to. It takes a lot of focus and concentration from the audience to fully understand what is being said and the inclusion of comedy allows a small break in the intense concentration which was done excellently by this cast.

However, I did feel that at times this play tried to be something it’s not. Much Ado is a classic piece of theatre and if the directors want to reimagine it to be modern that that is great but this play seemed to all go halfway into the new generation. At the end of the play were heard Crazy In Love being played which is an extremely modern song by Beyoncé but the play still used the traditional language and was set in a time much before this decade. Also, at two points in the play, the actors started to sing which was interesting as it is a play and not a musical. Thirdly, there was a small scene in Act Two with audience participation and people from the audience being brought onto the stage which didn’t really make sense or add to the story and in all honesty, could have not been included.

Although it was not the cast or crews’ fault, there was bar holDing up the cover of the seating which blocked my view of center stage and at times I could not see what was happening on stage and also there was very loud motorbike noises throughout which did distract from the play and made the dialogue hard to hear.


Overall, this as a play that respects the classical traditions of Shakespeare theatre while adding some new contemporary elements. The comedy in this play was excellent and the actors performed very well and made all the characters appear believable and relatable. I would rate this production 3 and a half stars and would encourage any fan of classical theatre to catch this show before it leaves the festival on Saturday the 20th July.

Review Hi-De-Hi, Everyman Theatre, Cardiff by Rhys Payne

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Hi-de-Hi, performed in Sophia Gardens at Cardiff Open-Air festival, was a stage adaptation of the classic TV show of the same name the production was performed by an extremely talented cast who performed a near-perfect tribute to the show. Most of the cast members had an uncanny resemblance to the original cast, especially Gladys Pugh (played by Sarah Green) who nailed every nuance and mannerisms of the character who was originally played Ruth Madoc including the distinctive voice. I have seen Sarah in many productions and each role is an almost stark contrast to the last who only goes to show the pure skill and talent that Sarah posses. My aunt, who also attend the show, was in such awe of the impersonation that she thought they had somehow managed to get Ruth Madoc to reprise her role.

Another standout performance in this show was Victoria Walters who played Peggy Ollerenshaw who managed to balance the comic and clumsy nature of Peggy with the serious/passionate side of the character while also creating vast amounts of pity from the audience.

The whole production ends with Peggy delivering a heartfelt and emotion realisation with the audience which tugged on every single person’s heartstrings. Pam Wiener and Richard Thomas performed perfectly as the constantly arguing couple of Yvonne and Barry Stuart-Hargreaves.

Both actors performed almost caricatures of the uptight couple constantly and stayed in character even during audience participation segments.

Phil Bond and Chris Kendrick took on the roles of Ted Bovis and Spike Dixon, who are both considered the comic characters in this camp, and both created many comical moments which had the audience laughing. Toby Harris, who was cast as Jeffrey Fairbrother fitted the role perfectly. The costume and acting blended together to create a person who looked genuinely out of place in the camp and uncomfortable with what is going on which is the entire premise of this production.

Something that I had never seen before is the inclusion of the yellow coats. These were the entertainers in the camp, similar to a Pontins Bluecoat, who within the realm of the summer camp were there to aid in the running of day to day activities. Within the production itself, these people were helping moving set between scenes and stewarding at the beginning and after the interval of the show. This felt like a fourth-wall break which was cleverly done to blend the outside, real world with the theatre world.

This beautiful production tread the line between a traditional show and an experience. As if you were immersing yourself in the world that these actors were producing. This was added to by the fact that it was performed in an open-air theatre. As there are no boundaries and enclosures in the open-air, this production felt as if it was permeating the real-world. On top of this, there was a lot of audience interaction and games carried out by members of the audience. I was, in fact, chosen to play one of the games, which involved pouring ‘spaghetti’ into a comically large pair of trousers. While I was doing this not one single actor broke character on the stage (which should not go unnoticed and only goes to show the professionalism of the cast.) The whole premise of this show was almost ‘come and join us in a one-day summer holiday camp’ which worked perfectly and was very enjoyable to participate in.

In conclusion, this production was fun-filled and enjoyable while providing a unique theatre experience. I did, however, feel as if I may have missed some of the nostalgia of the production and people of a similar age may also found this but I was still able to enjoy the show and get involved. My only issue with the show (which isn’t particularly an issue with the performers themselves) but there was a metal beam that prevented me from seeing some of the actors during certain points in the show. I would rate this production 5 out of 5 stars and would encourage people to catch this production before it is over.

PS if you are under 25 and purchase tickets on the door to any of the Everyman productions (including Hi-de-Hi) between Monday to Thursday you receive a special discount so tickets are only £8.

Review A Night at the Musicals, Wales Millennium Centre by Rhys Payne

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

A Night at the Musicals landed at the Wales Millennium Centre, it was a fun-filled evening where Broadway/West-End alumni performed a range of musical theatre songs. But for me, the highlight of this show was the Novello Orchestra. Unlike many of the other shows I have seen the Millennium this show had the orchestra perform on stage which I thought was really great as often the orchestra is forgotten about but this show made it extremely difficult to not appreciate them.

It was fantastic to see the skill and craftsmanship required to play in a musical orchestra and allowed the audience to appreciate them fully. This was only added to as the Conductor David Mahoney was also the compere for the evening. David was charismatic and hilarious throughout the show but he seemed to take full advantage of his charisma more so in the second act. This again was great to see as often times I know from experience that many conductors become awkward when acknowledged in the bows but for David to be so confident and charismatic was a nice change.


This show had a star-studded cast of musical theatre icons who each had fantastic songs to perform but also really interesting stories and connections to one another. They did however constantly pander to the audience and talked about how amazing the center is and how awesome Cardiff is which did become tedious after a while. The show opened with David Thaxton (of Phantom of the Opera, Only the Brave) who performed superstar from Jesus Christ Superstar. This was fantastic however it did take David a little while to warm up and the latter half of this show was incredible. This song choice was unexpected however as when songs from Jesus Christ Superstar was advertised I assumed it would be Gethsemane as that is the popular, often time show-stopping number, that many musical theatre fans adore but this selection allowed people to experience a song they probably never appreciated before.

My favorite performer in this production was John Owen-Jones (from Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera, Tiger Bay The Musical) and as I had seen him in Tiger Bay I already had high expectations for his performing abilities and he managed to even surpass the already high standards I had set. His rendition of ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Misérables was incredible and was definitely one of the best performances of the night. John also constantly promoted his albums which did become a running gag after a while and did cause a lot of laughter from the audience and the rest of the cast.


Kerry Ellis (of Les Misérables, Wicked) was out of this world. Her performance of ‘She Used To Be Mine’ rivalled that of London’s west end and ‘Anthem’ was an emotional performance that had many of the audience in tears. What made her performance even more incredible was that Kerry had lost a loved one on the day of the show but she still managed to perform at such a high standard. I know I personally would not be able to do this and Kerry remained professional. I would like to send my condolences to Kerry and her family at this difficult time.

Danielle Hope (of Wizard of Oz, Rock of Ages, winner of the BBC’s Over The Rainbow) completed the line-up and performed an excellent duet with John. Again her vocals were flawless.

This show used a children’s chorus who were incredibly talented and there is definitely many stars in that school who have a very big future ahead of them. There was however a few microphone issues that affected one of the solo singers but apart from this, they performed fantastically.


Overall, this show was a celebration of musical theatre performed by the highest quality musical theatre icons. The singing was incredible, the banter between cast members was fun to watch and the fact they support local school and area was the icing on the cake. I would rate this production 4 and a half stars and you should make sure you catch the next performance in Cardiff which is ‘Movie Mixtape: Songs from the Silver Screen’ on the 17th November 2019 which promises to have an even more star-studded cast that this show and so it is one not to miss!

Review INTO THE WOODS JR. Kinetic Theatre by Rhys Payne

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Kinetic Theatre arts youth academy’s production of Into The Woods Jr was performed in the Atrium USW. Having seen many of Kinetic’s productions in the past, including many of their Jr shows, my expectations were already set very high. Kinetic always produce high quality and professional productions that receive the highest praise and Into The Woods is no different. In fact, I personally think that this is one of Kinetic’s Youth’s best performances. At first, I thought it was strange to perform this show as it is one of Disney’s more dark and mysterious stories but the children managed to execute the show perfectly. One of the best things about this production specifically was that you can see the enjoyment and passion that these children have for performing. You can see many of the children getting very involved and having a good time which is so nice from the audience’s perspective, especially if you are a parent of one of the cast members. The children managed to balance the sinister and dark nature of some scenes with the fun and happy aspects of others which is not an easy thing to do. The show opened with a dark song in which the children wore black capes and moved in a sinister fashion. This scheme was actually spooky for the audience which means both the directors and the cast did what they meant to do.

All of the cast clearly worked very hard with the ensemble always being in character and providing beautiful vocals when required. Each child knew their role within the story and performed it the best they could. One of my favorite performers in this show was Tilly Birch who played Milky White (the cow) while she was primarily there for ‘awh’ factor moments but also she was clearly trying her best and having loads of fun in the meantime. A highlight for this character was when they swallow all the items and have to ‘milk’ the cow, obviously as Tilly is a girl in a costume I was confused as to how they would do this. What they did was place the cup down and Tilly what I can only describe as the cutest little dance I have ever seen which had both awhhs and laughs from the audience. She appeared very confident on the stage and I believe that she is a star in the making. The baker and his wife, played by Sam Walter and FFion Morris, helped drive the entire narrative of the musical. The role of Baker in the film version was James Corden (who I was a little disappointed with) but Sam, in this performance, really made the character relatable and his wife acted with emotion which built a great sense of sympathy from the audience. The stand out in this show was Lexi Ricketts who played the witch. Lexi managed to own the stage every time she was on it and actually made the character very scary. Her acting and singing were both incredible and she clearly has a very bright future in the performing arts. Her rendition of Last Midnight was perfect and was definitely on a professional level. The narrator in this performance, played by Amelia Francis, also helped move the story along but also sounded fantastic while singing her songs. The princes and Jack, played by Theo Birch, Harry Smith and Ben Page were fun to watch and again were clearly enjoying their time on stage. The princes had great chemistry together and performed like a double act which caused many laughs from the audience. The wolf, played by Ben Cogan, had a jazz-esque manner (similar to the movie) and was also very entertaining to watch.


Overall, this is a family-friend show that shows the talent and skills of the young cast while creating atmosphere and emotion like a professional show. I would rate this performance 4 out of 5 stars and I would encourage you to watch this show to see the full potential of every child on display while at the same time supporting a local theatre company.