Category Archives: Film & TV

Review ‘The Return/Y Dychweliad’ Re-Live by Kiera Sikora

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Re- Live’s new theatre show ‘The Return/Y Dychweliad’ is a moving, courageous composition of sadness, truth, celebration and sacrifice.

It begins at St Fagan’s Museum entrance where we are taken on a welcoming walk to Oakdale Workmen’s Institute, listening to various accounts of the thoughts and memories of the people connected to Oakdale. They tell us of the beauty of ‘devouring books’ from the library which was a rarity then, the joy of choc-ice treats and how Oakdale invited a ‘thirst for knowledge’ in the Institute.


We then reach the Oakdale’s Workmen’s Institute where (after a lovely cuppa tea) we are thrown into a World War I Victory Ball in 1919. The bunting is up, the tea is flowing, the Bara Brith is out and we are entertained with song, story and striking truths of what it was to be a soldier, a friend, a woman and a mother during The First World War. We are shown the thrill of the beginning of war, and the heartache it created during a time when so much was unknown medically about the after affects of battle and sacrifice.


The piece moves through dialogue, solo performance, touching physical imagery and choral singing with a nod for the audience to join in on a few wartime tunes. And there’s the beauty of Re-Live right there. Yes, it’s a show, a performance, but it’s a cwtch too. A really important, poignant, ‘so glad to be home’ kind of cwtch. The cast open their arms to you, smile at you, pour their hearts out to you and allow you to feel something about how they feel and have felt. Re- Live’s mission is to work with communities and to tell stories and truths from their lives and ‘Y Dychweliad’ is a beautiful shower of these things. These stories, this history, the effect war has on people around us and still has to this day are subjects that we must talk about. If we don’t talk about these things, if we don’t remember the history of our times,  and the affects it has on us still- will they be lost? Will we learn? Will future generations know these wonderful, war time songs, even?



Karin Diamond and the team have created a gorgeous concoction of story, song, music and poetry and a beautiful memory for all that see the show. The production ends as fuelled as it begins, with a personal poem ‘Mother Wales’ written by one of the cast- which makes your heart beam. The thankful, heartfelt, emotional response at the post show discussion is unforgettable. Talks from the cast about their own experiences, and how much support we must continue to provide for our Veterans is integral.

One of the cast said ‘ Once you leave for war, and go over there, coming back is.. alien. You’re petrified. You come home. But you’re never the same.’ Reading through the Oakdale information book, one Veteran writes (of working with Re-Live) ‘The project has saved me because it’s given me something to look forward to, it’s given me a purpose again. It helps me control my anxiety too. This is the one place I can come where I know I won’t be judged.’

And that’s Re-Live. Sharing words and feelings from people, to people and for people. With the utmost care, gratitude and heart. ‘Keep the Homes Fires Burning’, indeed. 



‘The Return/Y Dychweliad’ runs from 14-16 March/Mawrth, 

Oakdale Workmen’s Institute, St Fagan’s National Museum of History/ Sefydliad Y Gweithwyr Oakdale, Sain Ffagan Amgueddfa Werin Cymru

Cyfweliad gyda Rhian Davies, Cynhyrchydd Gweithredol, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru

Yna, penderfynais symud adref i Abertawe, lle cefais swydd gyda chwmni teledu Tinopolis fel cynhyrchydd dan hyfforddiant, a chael cyfle i barhau i adrodd straeon dramatig drwy gyfrwng rhaglenni dogfen am dros ddeng mlynedd. Rydw i bellach wedi bod gyda Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru am ychydig dros 3 blynedd, ac yn dal i ymhyfrydu yn y cyfle i ddweud straeon da, perthnasol, mewn nifer o wahanol ffyrdd.

Er taw Cynhyrchydd Gweithredol yw eich swydd yn y cwmni, rydych hefyd yn gyfrifol am yr holl gynyrchiadau, yn ogystal ag am y gwaith cyfranogi, sy’n cynnwys gweithio gyda’r gynulleidfa ehangach. Mae hynny’n waith ac iddo gwmpas eang iawn. Sut ydych chi’n llwyddo i gyfrannu at bob un o’r meysydd hyn?

Amrywiaeth sy’n rhoi blas ar fywyd! Mae’n gylch gwaith eang, ond rydw i wrth fy modd yn wynebu’r her. Yn fy marn i, mae’r gynulleidfa’n allweddol i bopeth ry’n ni’n ei wneud, ac mae ein gweithgareddau cyfranogi gyda chynulleidfaoedd yr un mor bwysig â’n cynyrchiadau.  Rydym yn ymestyn y gweithgareddau hynny, gan wrando ar farn pobl a gweithredu arno.

Mae gan Theatr Gen dîm gwych yn Llinos Jones, ein Swyddog Cyfranogi, a Fflur Thomas a Nia Skyrme, ein Cynhyrchwyr Cynorthwyol. Yn ogystal â chynllunio a hwyluso trefniadau holl gynyrchiadau’r Theatr Gen rydyn ni hefyd, gyda’n gilydd, yn cydlynu ein Clybiau Drama gyda Menter Iaith Gorllewin Sir Gâr, Theatr Mwldan a Theatr Felinfach; ein gweithgareddau lles gyda’r rhwydwaith Cyfuno Sir Gâr; yn ymgysylltu â chynulleidfaoedd yn y gwahanol leoliadau ar gyfer ein perfformiadau BSL; gyda Dysgwyr y Gymraeg ledled Cymru trwy gyfrwng ein sgyrsiau cyn-sioe a gwersi Cymraeg i Ddysgwyr a gyflwynir ar y cyd gyda’r Ganolfan Dysgu Cymraeg Genedlaethol; gydag arbenigwyr ym myd addysg er mwyn cefnogi’r cwricwlwm newydd a darparu adnoddau yn y Gymraeg; gyda gwahanol leoliadau wrth gyflwyno’r cynllun cenedlaethol ‘talwch faint a fynnwch’ ar gyfer cyflwyniadau o ddarlleniadau o waith gan ein Grŵp Dramodwyr Newydd, ac ati ac ati. Rydym yn gwneud ein gorau, ond yn bell o fod yn berffaith, ac yn croesawu unrhyw sylwadau ac awgrymiadau.

Rydym eisiau ymestyn yn bellach ac yn fwy eang, ac, fel y cwmni Theatr Genedlaethol Cymraeg ei iaith, teimlaf fod gennym gyfrifoldeb aruthrol a bod angen i ni weithredu i ddileu’r rhwystrau i gael mynediad at ein gwaith. Dydyn ni ddim yn honni ein bod yn gwneud popeth yn dda nac yn berffaith, ond rydym yn gwneud ein gorau glas. Rydym yn craffu a bopeth ry’n ni’n ei wneud, gan newid ac addasu o fewn Cymru sydd hefyd yn newid, gan ddysgu o’n camgymeriadau.

Ar hyn o bryd, mae Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru yn ymarfer Merched Caerdydd gan Catrin Dafydd a Nos Sadwrn o Hyd gan Roger Williams. Bydd y ddwy ddrama’n cael eu perfformio fel rhaglen ddwbl i deithio Cymru y gwanwyn hwn. Mae’r ddwy yn adlewyrchu gwahanol agweddau ar y Gymru gyfoes. Ydych chi’n credu bod theatr fyw yn dal i deimlo’n berthnasol i gynulleidfaoedd iau, o ystyried y gystadleuaeth sydd am gynulleidfaoedd i ddramâu gan safleoedd ffrydio yn ôl y galw, megis Netflix?

Does dim byd gwell na’r teimlad hwnnw o weld stori ddramatig yn fyw, a rhannu’r profiad o ymateb yn y foment i berfformiad a sgript. Yn wyneb cymaint o gystadleuaeth, mae’n fwy anodd gwneud y theatr yn fwy perthnasol – yn enwedig i gynulleidfaoedd iau – ond dyna lle mae’r her, ac rydw i wrth fy modd gyda her.

Rwyf hefyd yn aelod o fwrdd Mess Up the Mess, sefydliad sy’n cynnig cyfleoedd deinamig i bobl ifanc ym maes creu theatr, oherwydd fy mod yn credu’n gryf mewn ymgysylltu â chynulleidfaoedd iau. Roeddech yn crybwyll Netflix. Yn 2017, bu Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru yn peilota ein dangosiad theatrig cyntaf yn y sinema drwy ddarlledu ein perfformiad o Macbeth, yn fyw ac fel-byw, o Gastell Caerffili i 11 o sinemâu ledled Cymru. Yr enw a roddwyd ar hyn oedd Theatr Gen Byw.

Wrth symud ymlaen, mae angen i ni gofleidio’r agenda ddigidol. Rwyf wedi cael gweledigaeth y bydd pobl ifanc – ac, yn wir, pawb arall – yn gallu cael mynediad at ein cynyrchiadau, a dylanwadu arnynt yng nghyd-destun y cynnwys, pryd bynnag maen nhw’n dewis, pan mae’n eu siwtio nhw, ar ben eu hunain, mewn grŵp, ble bynnag y maen nhw. Mae’n rhaid i ni fod yn gynhwysol, nid yn gaeedig, ac mae hyn yn golygu darparu cynifer o gyfleoedd ag y bo modd i sicrhau bod pawb yn gallu mwynhau amrywiaeth o weithiau theatr yn y Gymraeg, yn fyw ac fel-byw.

Yn ddiweddar, mae’r ddau ddramodydd – Catrin Dafydd a Roger Williams – wedi cael llwyddiant ym maes Dramâu Teledu a gynhyrchwyd yn Gymraeg yn gyntaf, ac yna yn Saesneg. Ydy Cymru’n unigryw yn y ffaith bod ganddi awduron o’r fath safon uchel yn sgrifennu ar gyfer y Teledu a’r Theatr ar yr un pryd?

On’d yw hi’n wych bod awduron sy’n sgrifennu yn Gymraeg i’r teledu – rhai fel Roger a Catrin, Siôn Eirian, a sawl un arall – hefyd yn gallu bod yn ddramodwyr sy’n sgrifennu yn y Gymraeg; bod Cynhyrchwyr Teledu Cymraeg, fel fi (a Roger) hefyd yn gallu bod yn Gynhyrchwyr Theatr Gymraeg, a bod Cyfarwyddwyr Teledu fel Ffion Dafis (sydd hefyd yn actores) yn gallu cyfarwyddo pennod o Pobol y Cwm yn ogystal â chyfarwyddo cynhyrchiad theatr? Roedd Mared Swain, sydd ar hyn o bryd yn cyfarwyddo’r sioe gyntaf yn ein rhaglen ddwbl, Merched Caerdydd a Nos Sadwrn o Hyd, sy’n agor yr wythnos hon yn Theatr Clwyd, hefyd yn Gynhyrchydd Stori ar gyfres S4C, Gwaith Cartref. Rwy’n siŵr fy mod yn diflasu fy nghydweithwyr wrth sôn mor aml am sgiliau trosglwyddadwy, ond os nad ydych chi wedi gweithio mewn rhyw sector penodol, does dim rheswm pam na all eich profiadau fod o fudd i sector arall, a hoffwn weld mwy o gydweithio ar draws y sectorau ym meysydd y diwydiannau creadigol a diwylliannol. Rwy’n credu’n gryf y byddai sector y theatr a sector byd teledu yn cael mantais o hyn.

Bydd y cynhyrchiad yn cynnig dau berfformiad BSL – un yn Theatr Clwyd, Yr Wyddgrug, ar 15 Mawrth am 19:45, a’r llall yn Stiwdio Weston, Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru, Caerdydd, ar 11 Ebrill am 19:00. Allwch chi ddweud wrthon ni pam, yn eich barn chi, mae perfformiadau a gefnogir gan BSL yn rhan bwysig o’r hyn rydych yn ei gynnig i gynulleidfaoedd?

Dechreuodd y cyfan gydag awydd i fod yn fwy cynhwysol, ac edmygedd o’r arferion da a sefydlwyd gan Sherman 5 yn Theatr y Sherman, a bellach mae’n rhan greiddiol o’n gwaith. Roedd dod i adnabod Cathryn McShane, Cymraes sy’n ddehonglydd BSL, a Nia Skyrme, cynhyrchydd Cymraeg ei hiaith a chanddi brofiad o hwyluso perfformiadau BSL, yn gam allweddol yn y gwaith o wireddu’r weledigaeth hon. Cawsom gymorth gan Jonny Cotsen yn ein peilot cychwynnol, ac yn ddiweddar fe’n hanogodd ni i beilota perfformiad BSL integredig o Estron gan Hefin Robinson.

Rwy’n credu ei bod yn bwysig i holl aelodau’r gynulleidfa weld y dehonglydd ar y llwyfan. Merched Caerdydd a Nos Sadwrn o Hyd yw’r trydydd cynhyrchiad teithiol cenedlaethol lle rydym wedi darparu’r gwasanaeth hwn, ac rydw i wrth fy modd fod Cwmni’r Frân Wen hefyd ar hyn o bryd yn darparu’r gwasanaeth hwn (gan Cathryn) ar eu taith ledled Cymru o’r cynhyrchiad Anweledig. Fel cwmni theatr cenedlaethol Cymraeg ei iaith, teimlaf fod gennym gyfrifoldeb mawr i barhau i symud ymlaen, yn y gobaith y gallwn helpu i symud y sector yn ei flaen yn y cyd-destun hwn. Mae’n rhaid i ni ddechrau meddwl nawr – beth nesaf?  

Mae ‘Get the Chance’ yn gweithio i gefnogi ystod amrywiol o aelodau o’r cyhoedd i’w galluogi i gael mynediad at ddarpariaeth ddiwylliannol. Yn eich profiad personol chi, ydych chi’n ymwybodol o unrhyw rwystrau i ddarpariaeth ddiwylliannol?

Yn fy marn i, mae yna sawl rhwystr. Ar nodyn personol, mae gen i ffrindiau ac aelodau o’r teulu sy’n cael trafferth i ymrwymo’u hunain i fynd i weld cynhyrchiad theatr yn y Gymraeg, er eu bod i gyd yn byw eu bywydau’n hapus drwy gyfrwng yr iaith. Mae pobl yn aml yn meddwl nad yw eu Cymraeg yn ddigon da, neu bod natur yr iaith a ddefnyddir mewn drama yn rhy anodd iddynt ei deall yn llawn. Rydym yn ceisio cyfathrebu’r neges bod ein perfformiadau theatr yn y Gymraeg yn gwbl gynhwysol, a’n bod yn cynnig ystod eang o gynyrchiadau – rhai’n defnyddio iaith lafar, eraill yn defnyddio iaith farddonol, rhai yn nhafodiaith y gogledd, eraill yn nhafodiaith y de; rhai mewn Cymraeg dinesig ac eraill mewn Cymraeg cefn gwlad. Y realiti yw taw dim ond un elfen yw iaith yn yr holl sbectrwm o rwystrau i gynyrchiadau theatr.  Mae gennym ddyletswydd tuag at yr holl bobl sy’n wynebu rhwystrau i’n cynyrchiadau, a dyna pam rydym yn gwneud pob ymdrech i chwilio am bartneriaid o bob cefndir i’n helpu ni gyda’r daith hon i’w gwneud yn haws i’n cynulleidfa gael mynediad at ein gwaith.

Yn ogystal â chynhyrchu pecyn cynhwysfawr o weithgareddau i gefnogi rhai sy’n dysgu Cymraeg,  deallaf mai hwn fydd y tro cyntaf i Sibrwd, eich Ap unigryw, gynnig cyfieithiad llawn o’r Gymraeg i’r Saesneg. Mae hyn yn cynnig cyfleoedd cyffrous i gynulleidfaoedd newydd gael mynediad at eich gwaith. Sut mae Sibrwd wedi datblygu fel cyfrwng mynediad i gynulleidfaoedd?

Ydyn, rydyn ni’n peilota rhywbeth cwbl newydd y tro hwn; bydd Sibrwd, ein ap ar gyfer ffonau clyfar, yn cynnwys cyfieithiad llawn o’r ddwy ddrama yn y rhaglen ddwbl hon. Rydym wedi cael adborth gan ein cynulleidfaoedd, yn cynnwys pobl fyddar neu rai a chanddynt nam ar eu clyw; mae’n amlwg eu bod nhw’n awyddus i gael y gwasanaeth hwn, ac rydyn ninnau’n awyddus i roi cynnig arni. Rydw i wedi gweld y cynllun newydd, ac mae’n edrych ac yn teimlo’n grêt. Rydym yn edrych ymlaen at gael adborth gan gynulleidfaoedd ar y daith hon, wrth i ni barhau i ddatblygu’r adnodd.


Pe byddech chi mewn sefyllfa i ariannu un maes o’r celfyddydau, pa faes fyddai hwnnw a pham?

Prosiect cyfranogi cenedlaethol ar y cyd â lleoliadau ledled Cymru a fydd yn datblygu teimlad o gyffro o gwmpas y theatr, ac yn cyrraedd uchafbwynt mewn perfformiad cenedlaethol mewn gwahanol leoliadau ar yr un pryd. Rydym yn awyddus i gefnogi’r lleoliadau wrth iddynt weithio tuag at gynyddu ac amrywio eu cynulleidfaoedd.


Beth sy’n eich cyffroi chi ynghylch y celfyddydau?

Y ffaith bod popeth ac unrhyw beth yn bosibl, gyda’r bobl iawn.


Beth oedd y peth gwych diwethaf i chi ei brofi y byddech yn hoffi ei rannu gyda’n darllenwyr?

Yn ddiweddar, y stori sydd wedi fy nghyffwrdd fwyaf yw llyfr o’r enw Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Stori yw hon am arwres anghyffredin, lle mae ei phersonoliaeth unigryw a’i hiwmor yn creu stori hynod ddarllenadwy wrth iddi sylweddoli mai agor ei chalon yw’r unig ffordd i oroesi – ac mae hynny’n neges bwysig i ni i gyd.

Diolch yn fawr iawn am eich amser.

An interview with Rhian Davies, Executive Producer, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru

Hi Rhian great to meet you, what got you interested in the Arts?

I’ve always loved watching soap operas, drama, films and reading good stories. In my teens I wrote a few short stories that were published in magazines and books and then decided to follow my dream and see if I could get a job doing something creative. I had no idea what I could do, but kept knocking at different doors and got a place on a Cyfle course as a trainee scriptwriter based in Caernarfon. I was paid as an apprentice and had amazing experiences working on scripts for dramas on S4C and got a chance to meet loads of good people. I then got a job at Pobol y Cwm as an Assistant Script Editor and remember that immense feeling of pride when walking through the BBC Wales double doors. I became a Script Editor and later a Storyliner and got the chance to write a script or two, and had a ball helping create stories for some of Wales’ most colourful characters.

Rhian working as a Script Editor.

I then decided to move back home to Swansea where Tinopolis TV took me on as a fledgling TV Producer and gave me a chance to keep telling dramatic stories through documentaries for over a decade. I’ve been with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru for just over 3 years now and am still relishing the chance to tell good, relevant stories in different ways.

Your role in the company is that of the Executive Producer, you are also responsible for all the productions and also the participation work, which includes working with the wider audience. That’s a role with a great deal of breadth. How do you manage to cover all of these areas?

Variety is the spice of life! It’s a broad remit but I relish the challenge. To me, the audience is key to everything we do, and our participatory activities with audiences are as important as our productions. We’re increasing these activities, listening to what people want and acting upon it.

Theatr Gen has a cracking little team in Llinos Jones, our Participation Officer, and Fflur Thomas and Nia Skyrme, our Assistant Producers. Together, as well planning and assuring the smooth running of Theatr Gen productions, we co-ordinate our Drama Clubs with Menter Iaith Gorllewin Sir Gâr, Theatr Mwldan and Theatr Felinfach; our wellbeing activities with the Carmartheshire Fusion network; engagement with audiences in theatre venues for our BSL performances; with Welsh learners across Wales via pre show talks and Welsh learner lessons taught nationally in conjunction with the work of the National Centre for Learning Welsh; with educational specialists so that we support the new curriculum and provide resources in the Welsh language; with venues in introducing a national ‘pay what you decide’ scheme for presentations of our New Playwrights’ Group readings, and on and on. We’re trying our best, but are far from perfect, and welcome all comments and suggestions.

We want to reach further and wider and I feel that, as the Welsh-language, National Theatre company, we have a huge responsibility and need to act to remove barriers to accessing our work. We don’t claim to do everything well or perfectly, but we’re trying our best: we’re scrutinising the value of everything we do, changing within a Wales that’s changing and hopefully learning from our mistakes.

Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru are currently rehearsing Merched Caerdydd (Cardiff Girls) by Catrin Dafydd and Nos Sadwrn o Hyd (Saturday Night Forever) by Roger Williams. The two plays will be performed as a double bill touring Wales this spring. Both plays reflect different aspects of contemporary Wales. Do you think live theatre still feels relevant to younger audiences with competition for drama audiences from on demand streaming sites such as Netflix?

Nothing beats that feeling of seeing a dramatic story live and that shared experience of reacting there and then to the performance and the script. With so much competition, it’s harder to make theatre relevant, especially to younger audiences, but therein lies the challenge, and I love a challenge.

I’m also a board member with Mess Up The Mess, an organisation that offers dynamic theatre making experiences to young people, because I sincerely believe in the importance of engaging younger audiences. You talk about Netflix. In 2017, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru piloted our first cinematic theatrical screening through broadcasting our performance of Macbeth, both live and as-live, from Caerphilly Castle to 11 cinemas across Wales. We branded it Theatr Gen Byw.

Moving forward, we need to embrace the digital agenda. I’ve had a vision that youngsters, and indeed everyone, will be able to access our productions, and also influence  them in terms of content, whenever they want, when it suits them, on their own, in a group, wherever they are.  We need to be inclusive, not exclusive and this means providing as many opportunities as possible for everyone to enjoy a variety of Welsh theatrical works, live and as-live.  

Both playwrights Catrin Dafydd and Roger Williams have had success recently in TV Drama first produced in the Welsh and then English Language. Is Wales unique in writers of this calibre writing for both TV and Theatre at the same time?

Isn’t it great that Welsh-language television writers like Roger and Catrin, Siôn Eirian too, and many more, can also be Welsh-language playwrights, that Welsh-language TV Producers, like me (and Roger), can also be Welsh-language theatre Producers and that TV Directors like Ffion Dafis (who’s also an actress) can direct an episode of Pobol y Cwm as well as direct a theatre production? Mared Swain, who’s currently directing the first show in our double bill, Merched Caerdydd and Nos Sadwrn o Hyd, which opens this week in Theatr Clwyd, was also a Story Producer on the S4C series Gwaith Cartref. I think I bore my colleagues about the significance of transferable skills, but just because you haven’t worked in a sector doesn’t mean your experiences can’t benefit another sector, and I wish to see more cross sector working within the creative industries and culture sector  I truly believe that both the theatre and TV sectors would benefit.

The production will have two BSL performances, at Theatr Clwyd in Mold on the 15 March, 19:45 and then the Weston Studio, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff on 11 April, 19:00 Can you please tell us why you feel BSL supported performances are an important part of your offer for audiences?

It started with a desire to be more inclusive and an admiration of the good practices established by Sherman 5 at Sherman Theatre and now it’s an integral part of our work. Finding Cathryn McShane, a Welsh-speaking BSL interpreter, and Nia Skyrme, a Welsh-speaking producer with experience of facilitating BSL performances, was key to moving this vision forward. Jonny Cotsen supported us in our initial pilot, and recently encouraged us to pilot an integrated BSL performance of Estron by Hefin Robinson.

I think it’s important for all audience members to see an interpreter on stage. Merched Caerdydd and Nos Sadwrn o Hyd is the third national touring production where we have provided this service, and I’m delighted that Cwmni’r Frân Wen is now also providing this service (by Cathryn) on their current national tour of Anweledig. As a national Welsh-language theatre company I feel that we have a huge responsibility to keep moving forward and hopefully help move the sector forward in this regard. We need to start thinking now, what’s next?  

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision. In your personal experience, are you aware of any barriers to cultural provision?

There are many. On a personal note, I have friends and family that struggle to commit to making it to a Welsh-language theatre production even though they all live their life happily through the medium of Welsh. People often think their Welsh is not good enough or that the nature of the Welsh language used in a play will be too difficult to understand fully. We try to communicate that our Welsh-language theatre productions are inclusive and that we offer a wide range of productions, some that use colloquial language, others more poetic language, some using North Walian dialect, others South Walian dialect and some in urban Welsh and others in rural Welsh.

The reality is that language is only one element in a whole gamut of barriers to theatre productions. We have a duty towards all people facing barriers to our productions, and that is why we actively seek partners from all walks of life to help us make this journey for our audience to access our work an easier one.   

As well as a comprehensive package of activity to support Welsh Learners, I believe this is the first time your unique App Sibrwd will have full translation from Welsh to English. This offers exciting opportunities for new audience to access your work. How has Sibrwd developed as an access tool for audiences?

You’re right, we’re piloting something new with Sibrwd this time and Sibrwd, our smart phone app, will include a full translation of both plays in this double bill. We’ve had feedback from our audiences, including people who are deaf or have hearing loss, and this is what they want, so we want to give it a go. I’ve seen it, and it looks and feels great. We look forward to receiving audience feedback on this tour, as we continue to develop this resource.

If you were able to fund an area of the arts in what would this be and why?

A national participation project in conjunction with venues across Wales that will build some excitement around theatre and culminate in a national performance in venues at the same time. We want to support the venues as they try to grow and diversify their audiences.

What excites you about the arts?

The fact that everything and anything is possible, with the right people.

What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?

The story that’s touched me the most, recently, is a book called Elanor Eliphant is Completely Fine. It’s the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose weirdness and wit make for an irresistible story as she realizes the only way to survive is to open your heart – an important message for us all.

Many thanks for your time, Rhian.

You can find out more about the work of the company and its work here

Please note this article is paid for content.

Review ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL BY jONATHAN eVANS

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

Alita: Battle Angel is in the same company as Speed Racer, Jupiter Ascending, Valerian, Ready Player One and A Wrinkle in Time. Where it boldly seeks to dazzle you with its effects, ideas and camera movements, though while it cannot be said that the filmmakers are not passionate about the material and the people on the production side were slouches, the story and ideas never come together. 

Alright, let’s plow through the plot because there are a lot of details. It is the far distant future and a man is looking through a trash heap to salvage parts. While doing so he finds the head and some of the guts of a robot (the head itself looks like that of a young girl). He takes her home and attaches a body, she comes to life and knows so very little. So Dr. Dyson Ido (Christopher Waltz) explains the ins-and-outs of the city to her, there are people and robots and people can have robotic appendages attached to them to enhance themselves. This is exposition and it feels like it, which is the worst exposition.


Alita (Rosa Salazar) herself is one of the great selling points of the movie, her skin is so near perfectly rendered, it is one of the great feats of C.G.I. animation, but her eyes size are increased to make them look like typical Anime eyes (animation produced in Japan). So there is an obvious disconnect from the reality. They clearly had a lot riding on this effect and are obviously proud of the end result having her framed in the traditional way, and letting the camera gets really close to her so you can see all the teeny tiny hairs on her skin and the individual pores as well as seeing her in slow motion so you can really soak her up from every angle and see every strand of hair gracefully move. 

A problem with her as a character is that she has rather little personality and is a perfect warrior, so we have nothing to connect with on an emotional level and nothing to root for during the action scenes because she can win. I suppose some of the things she does is cool but it’s ultimately a shallow experience.

Jennifer Connelly and Mahershala Ali play Dr. Chiren and Vector, two people in service to Nova the ruler of the upside and who is able to transfer his consciousness into other people. Chiren was married to dr— and now builds other robots for the games and Vector funds it and has dark ambitions and pulls the strings, though he is only a bit player compared to Nova. We barely learn anything real about them, they aren’t even the biggest threat, who we also barely get to know or care about and they two seem bored whenever they are onscreen and I can’t blame them because they are given nothing to work with. What a waste of two very good actors. 

You get the sense of something deeper and more profound happening or at least the potential. Robots, technology, extravagant designs, and a big looming evil threat can, of course, lend itself to wonderful material, the manga is probably filled with these kinds of things and was probably why the filmmakers were so passionate about bringing it to life in a movie. But concept and execution are two vastly different entities. Saying that your going to create a unique, futuristic world and have an adventure playout within it is one thing, making that something engaging is another. Ultimately we have a movie with the goal to create something profound and unique like Ghost in the Shell but just ends up like the 2017 version of Ghost in the Shell.

When the characters make any decision and go about it you don’t really know them or even have a strong understanding of their motivations so when something is happening that you understand is suppose to be dramatic it is less like people forming their own destiny and rather like seeing someone else crash toys together. 

I remember days when we were able to see movies, nay, blockbusters and not feel like we had to commit for three for five more movies a decade later. When you watch Star Wars the threat is beaten, the good guys win and it ends, a satisfying movie as a whole, there are others, but they work by themselves. Those days seem to be dead for the foreseeable future as franchises are the name of the game these days. This one is one of the biggest sinners of all because this story isn’t even done by the time the credits roll, hardly anything has been accomplished, we barely have a grasp on characters and plain just dont care. 

Amongst the previously mentioned list of ambitious effects, driven movies Speed Racer is probably the best with the most outlandish, unapologetic images as well as being wise enough to have a tone where it’s tongue is firmly in its cheek. This is the new bottom of the barrel, with not even telling complete story and leaving us shortchanged an experience when we paid full price for the ticket.

Review The Verdict, Theatr Clwyd by Karis Alaina Clarke

Middle Ground Theatre

The Verdict

by Barry Reed

Adapted by Margaret May Hobbs

Theatr Clwyd

Tuesday 5 – Saturday 9 March

Box Office 01352 701521

www.theatrclwyd.com

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) for this David V Goliath courtroom drama 

The Verdict stars Ian Kelsey who first found fame as 90s teen heart-throb Dave Glover in Emmerdale,  and was most recently  seen on TV as villain Vinny Ashford in Coronation Street.

 Kelsey is part of a 15 strong cast of familiar stars from TV including Denis Lill (Only Fools and Horses), Paul Opacic (Bad Girls/Hollyoaks),Christopher Ettridge (Goodnight Sweetheart).

The Verdict plays in Mold for one week only as part of a national tour, which continues at venues throughout the UK until the Summer and with the named cast it was not surprising to see an almost full house on the first night of the run. Originally a movies starring Paul Newman and James Mason it was seen as a masterpiece of the time and nominated for 5 Oscars, More than a courtroom drama the story questions human nature and the value of life.

The large cast did not disappoint and all delivered credible performances.  Kelsey was heartfelt as the down on his luck lawyer who likes the booze and the office floor more than his wife and his bed. He is engaging and convincing in his transitional journey from hard-bitten ambulance chaser to, fighter of the cause, and we follow him willingly as he takes on the Church, the Judicial system and his peers. Even in the early stages of the play he is likable and this in the main is down to Kelsey’s charm as a actor and his timing. 

Supporting him in the plot and in the play was Lill who gave a stand out performance as one time partner and the surrogate father figure. Bringing a comic one liner to almost every delivery the chemistry between the two was entertaining and believable. 

There was a clever use of drops for set changes making the simple set seem more elaborate than it was, naturalistic in style the lighting and direction was all very safe and felt a little stated in the first half – this along with the fact it was set in the 70’s made it feel overall a little dated – with more adventurous lighting and potentially setting it in modern day much more could have been achieved from this talented cast…. Especially as the main theme of the play is taking on the System, exposing deceit and showing that “No life is small” this is as relevant today as it was in 1976. 

However when the second half kicked in and the courtroom drama began the tension and the acting over rode any concerns about lighting or direction I may have been having and all I was interested in was what would the verdict be!!

Review The LEGO Movie 2 By Jonathan Evans

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Back in 2014 when I first reviewed The LEGO Movie I not only gave it full marks but also named it the best movie of that year. It was succinct, perfectly timed, deconstruction as well as perfection of a classic adventure story. So naturally, there are high expectations for the sequel.

We pick up exactly where the first movie left off, with the day won but a new threat has arrived. Strange, large blocked creatures that speak with a toddlers voice. Emmet (Chris Pratt) who just dealt with Lord Bussiness (Will Ferrell) believes he knows how to deal with these new creatures, he constructs a large heart and gives it to them as an act of good faith, they eat it, so it’s battle. But our heroes are unable to combat them and the mysterious blocks devour all the shiny constructed things, eventually, the land becomes a barren, brutal desert wasteland like that of Mad Max: Fury Road. The characters now have become hard and grizzled Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) looks out on the horizon and narrates dramatic voice-over. Meanwhile, though Emmet continues to be the happy-go-lucky, always looking to the positive guy he’s always been. Though all the other characters Benny the Spaceship Captain (Charlie Day), Batman (Will Arnett), Princess Unikitty (Alison Brie) and MetalBeard (Nick Offerman) have all adapted to this new grim environment and mentality.

One day a ship comes out of nowhere, the characters try to bring it down but to no avail, stepping out of said ship is General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) a tall figure in a space suit that is there to gather the groups leaders, being that everyone is much more competent than Emmet so she takes them leaving Emmet stranded.

Emmet seeks to rescue his friends, he gets into space but when he collides with an asteroid field it breaks up. Luckily he is saved by another ship, shaped like a giant fist, piloted by the rough, manly, confident Rex Dangervest (also played by Pratt). He is always up for an adventure, especially one with risks and the possibility to shoot something, so he and his crew of raptors assist Emmet on his quest.

General Mayhem takes them through the stars and to the planet of her master Queen Waterva Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) a creature that is made of building blocks and able to transform into…well, whatever she wants to be (get the name now!). From a unicorn to a cloud, to something that looks like the kid-friendly version of a Lovecraft nightmare.

Being that all the characters return for this movie as well as introduces new ones it is crowded. All the characters get their moment to shine and it never loses focus on Emmet as the central character. But it seems more rickety than the previous movie. It’s as tight as it can be but there is just so much story to tell and so many characters to put into the mix that it feels like their moments are more paper thin.

Like with the last movie they abide by the mentality that if it the image on-screen cannot be made with actual Lego’s then it is not going to be there, so every piece you see is an actual Lego piece and could conceivably be built. Again this time they cut down on the frame rate to make the movements more choppy. A few times they really embrace the fact that they are toy pieces and cut to them as little toys moving across the screen as if on the string and the with someone making noises off-camera.

The story and script were handled by Phil Lord and Chris Miller who wrote and directed the last movie and Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. Both have plenty of wonderful flourishes that seem to be spontaneous moments that serve as mere surprise laughs, there are a few of these but most of them actually tie into the overall plot or come back to serve a purpose later on. deceptively great structure

This movie has everything that made the first movie great and expands the scale and pushes the characters forward with new questions and trials. It has big laughs throughout and is expertly written. There may be a little too much in it for its own good though how can you argue with a generous serving. If you have little children they will love the colours and fast passe, if you are older you’ll most likely be taken in but the sharp wit and clever use and subversion of troupes.

Review Green Book by Jonathan Evans

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Green Book is a movie that comes along every few years. close to awards season, based on real people and with historical problems as the backdrop. Not that this should be taken as a negative for the movie, historical movies and stories dealing and explaining about racism are very important and can be some of the best movies ever, for example, To Kill A Mockingbird and 12 Years A Slave. It’s just that there is an obvious supply and demand for these movies, what matters is how well it does its job.

Our story begins in 1962 in New York. There is a nightclub that plays music and caters to all sorts, some are notorious gangsters. One of the people working the club is Frank Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) whose nickname is “Tony Lip”, he knows how to talk to the patrons and defuse tense situations and can punch out nearly anyone, he also has a talent for manipulating a situation so he gets what he wants. The nightclub closes for fixing so Tony needs to find work for a few months, he gets a message for an interview, he goes to the top of a concert hall where he meets “Doc” Don Shirley a highly acclaimed musician and a black man (Tony didn’t know this). He is planning a long, three-month concert in the deep south of America, Tony is to serve as his driver and bodyguard.

Before the journey begins Tony has given the “Green Book” a guide book for black people in the south. It tells them which hotels, motels, bars etc. So he wishes his loving wife Dolores (Linda Cardellini) they get into their blue car that the record company has provided for them that also pops out against the mostly green environment of the South and the journey begins.

As any pairing must be they are not an instantly compatible. They are obviously different races, have different body types, enjoy different things and have to deal with social interactions completely parallel to each other. Tony has spent most of his life in Brooklyn working shady deals, usually speaking with his fists and getting by on working when he can. Don Shirley is articulate and carries himself as if everything he has ridden on his flawless dignity, he enjoys high society culture and etiquette.

Road movies lend themselves well to characters arcs. The characters start in one place, begin their journey, experience things and interact and face some kind of obstacle and they either reach their destination or return to the same place they started but changed. Being that there are multiple stops it lets the characters experience different scenarios in different ways, keeps them fairly brief and then in-between they are in the car together and must discuss it. There is also a few segments of montage to convey the overall journey and condenses the running time.

I have to admit that this movie is predictable. We have seen many other road movies and if I gave you the setup you can probably guess what kinds of conversations and prejudices they will face and where they will end up in the end. This does adhere to a form, however that does not instantly make a movie substandard, what matters is how it is framed, played out and if it brings anything new to the table. This very sharply deconstructs many of the social built-in prejudices and insecurities. Shirley is a man that has been around the world and because of the colour of his skin has learned what is important and what is actually rather superfluous.

Director Peter Farrely isn’t the name that would come to your head for a serious, human subject matter like this. He and his brother, Bobby, are the co-writers and directors for outlandish comedies such as Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, Me Myself and Irene and so on. Yet, to probably everyone’s surprise he handles the material well. There are some fun moments of banter as well as a few comedic moments and being that he also wrote the screenplay these were probably his contributions. These moments would usually cheapen this serious subject matter but here they serve for us to warm up to the characters as well as are used to intercede a serious moment or important talking point.

Green Book has a familiar and enduring setup and with leads that excels in performing their characters. It plays it safe but comes with some sharp analysis of some of the deeper things going on in society and how we perceive others and ourselves.

Review: How To Train Your Dragon 3 by Sian Thomas

Seeing as this movie what something I was the most excited for this year, I think it’s safe to say it has lived up to what I expected it to be, and then exceeded it. My interest in this series began forever ago, in the early birth of my teenage years and it ends fittingly, at the end of said teenage years. It felt like a neat end to a neatly set-up series, and I did really enjoy it.
These movies, though typically for people younger than me, are so easily enjoyed that it’s hard to feel that age based disjoint. The jokes are still strong, the animation beautiful and easy to follow – smooth and alluring, and the story itself is still interesting. Following all the same characters, we end up watching their next journey: separation, threat, and the almost more-threatening threat of real life dawning over favourite young underdog characters. That, in itself, is quite the shake. Watching Hiccup, who can’t be much older than 14 in the first movie, become a chief and a husband, yes – it was quite the shake.
Watching the conclusion to this series was cathartic and sad an promising. Leaving audience members like myself with a recently-dried tear, but the twinge of its feeling still very much real, even if it remains labelled as a “kids film” – I think it’s due the credit of far exceeding that. Especially after tackling topics like family member death, coming of age, responsibility, marriage, and separation. The progression of this series is almost like watching children grow, and it’s been an amazing experience.
Jokes stick out, and so do designs. The subtle ageing of returning characters, and the surprising looks of new ones. The villains, in particular, have also had intriguing designs; like Drago in the second movie, and the villain in this one just the same. They were opposites to each other; rugged and sleek, but they still conveyed such a huge feeling of threat in each movie. Flashbacks stay with you, glimpses into the future do, too. The finishing lines explaining the idea that dragons still exist, waiting for humans to sort ourselves out, was somewhat hopeful and glaring obvious to its meaning – and that kick to such a soft and innocent (mostly) series, was honestly lovely to see.
I’m hesitant to spoil things, of course, because the trio of movies is one to be enjoyed rather than explained. They’re an easy binge, if you start early enough in the afternoon, surely.
I really did enjoy this film. I’m glad I saw it and I’m glad that it’s tied the bow on the franchise so exceptionally.

Siân Thomas

Series Review, 35 Awr, s4c by Gareth Williams

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Exasperated by BBC1 Wales’ Pitching In? Thankfully, it is now the exception to the rule when it comes to contemporary Welsh television drama. What would have once been seen as a godsend – alleviating the problem of non-representation, if only briefly – is now seen as an affront to the people of Wales. We’re better than this. The last few years has seen an explosion of Welsh drama. Not only in the number of series’, but in the quality of these series’ too. From Hinterland to Bang, Parch to Keeping Faith, there has never been a better time for Welsh-set, Welsh-made drama. A Golden Age, as I’ve been inclined to call it.

At the start of 2019, there is another drama to be added to this growing roster: 35 Awr. Fflur Dafydd’s new series sees a 12-person jury assemble after a court case to consider their verdict. But finding the defendant guilty or not guilty of murder proves far less straight-forward than some were expecting. And when it comes to light that they could be in danger if allowed home, they are taken to a local hotel for their protection, until they can come to a decision. But not all is as it seems.

Across this 8-part series, the lives of these characters begin to slowly, tentatively, and intriguingly unfold. As they do, Dafydd begins to entangle them in a dark and sinister web. Connections are made, alliances formed; the power play between the different characters is always fascinating, never simple. The game of poker in episode three becomes the perfect metaphor for this psychological murder mystery. Even where their conversations seem mundane, or rather superfluous, one need only dig a little deeper, beneath the surface, to discover the ulterior motives, selfish motivations, and hidden desires at play. These aren’t always obvious at first. Which is what keeps the drama interesting. Dafydd slowly feeds us with tit-bits of information; now and again she surprises us with a big reveal. Such revelations come at steady intervals throughout; gradually increasing the tension, which bubbles gently until the final episode when it finally boils over, with pulsating twists and numerous turns.

It is the intimate characterisation which makes Fflur Dafydd’s scripts always so enjoyable. To see the characters of 35 Awr brought to life in such fine detail, and with such fascinating complexity, by the ensemble cast was a real treat. From the awful masculinity of Carwyn Jones’ Peredur to the nonchalant behaviour of Gillian Elisa’s Val (to name but two), Dafydd succeeds in creating a memorable set of well-rounded characters that become instantly recognisable long after the programme is over. Indeed, the excellent editing of Dafydd Hunt and the cinematography of Alwyn Hughes helps to give this drama a look that feels fresh and original even as it employs fairly standard techniques and tropes. This is no easy feat. Yet, somehow, they manage to do so; perhaps, in part, down to Dafydd’s original screenplay.

If you’re looking for a darker, more subversive murder mystery than your typical Agatha Christie, then 35 Awr should satisfy your needs. In fact, it should exceed them, for it is also much more than that. Part psychological thriller, part crime drama; it contains as much humour as it does menace. Writer Fflur Dafydd has assembled a fine cast of characters whose personal lives slowly seep out and intertwine with one another, creating a gripping narrative which culminates in a superbly arresting final episode. This is what great Welsh drama is. It is no longer defined by the likes of Pitching In. Pitching In is now the exception. Fflur Dafydd’s 35 Awr represents the rule.

Click here to watch the series now.

gareth

Review Glass By Jonathan Evans

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

As I said recently, it’s never too late to make a sequel. One of the movies to cemented writer-director  M. Night Shyamalan as an auteur in the early 2000s was Unbreakable, a spin on the Superhero origin, told in a refreshing, unique way. Now, nineteen years later we’ve been given the second movie and here is the finale.

Spoiler warning ahead for those that have yet to see Unbreakable or Split.

Basically, people are born with Superpowers, like the X-Men they re just born and they have special abilities, strength, speed, agility etc. But they are somewhat subtle and very few people are even aware that these people exist or that they themselves even possess powers. But they exist and some are aware of their unique nature and use them.

James MacAvoy is the man with over twenty-three different split personalities within him (they call themselves The Horde), some of them only have a few lines while others return more frequently, the one to pay attention to is “The Beast” one of great strength and agility. Samuel L. Jackson is Elijah Prince, a genius who suffers from a condition that renders his bones extremely brittle and easy to break, which earned him the nickname “Mr. Glass” which he also adopted as his villain alter ego and the title for this movie, however he is also a mastermind with intelligence that is beyond exceptional. Bruce Willis is back as David Dunn the unbreakable man who early on in the movie the press have titled “The Observer” he cannot be injured, has exceptional strength and can even read peoples sins by touching them, however, he has a weakness, water. He doesn’t really have much to do in this movie beyond looking sad and standing stoically.

Each of them come with their own supporting character. Dunn has his son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) that has supported him in his vigilante career since first discovering them and provides him intelligence via headset. Elijah has his loving mother (Charlayne Woodard) that has always believed he was special and had a big destiny. Then there’s Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), the kidnap victim of The Horde from Split but is more fascinated and sympathetic to the man with all the different personalities within his head.

Due to his actions that are revealed at the end of Unbreakable Elijah has been placed in a psychiatric hospital for the past nineteen years. But while The Beast is about to make victims out of a group of young girls a battle breaks out between him and Dunn whose been patrolling the streets keeping the neighborhood safe, it’s to a standstill because they are taken in by a Doctor Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulsen), that takes them to the same clinic Elijah has been residing in.

Now all three of them are in the same mental hospital and the doctor is convinced that they all suffer from a type of delusion of grandeur and their feats of superpowers can be logically explained away. I didn’t buy it for one second, I’d seen the previous two movies, I’d seen the trailer where they clearly display inhuman abilities so these scenes didn’t work, nor do I think they’d really work on anyone else. Even for someone that hasn’t seen the previous two movies or the trailer we already see feats of strength that are beyond human abilities, so this section just doesn’t work.

Shamalyan has taken one of the most infamous career dives in history, when he started he was considered to be one of the most exciting writer/directors working in the industry, but eventually, he started turning out obvious, nonsensical and clearly indulgent products. Recently with the movie The Visit and previously Split he seems to be getting back on track. I don’t rate either of the two previously mentioned movies very highly but they were definitely much more solid than his previous outings.

This movie is filled with “smart” characters, characters that have high I.Q. but in this, you must ask the question “Can a writer write a character smarter than themselves?” A writer can write dialog that can be reasearched and have the character know all this information off the top of their heads but what about the way they use it? If it doesnt work in the movies logic or even in any logic then it doesnt matter and you see the failing of the writer because they’ve created an equation that doesnt add up. Another faily is that the reaveals are portrayed as great feats so there is a lack of modesty which sours the expereice because you dont buy it while the filmmaker is bigging themselves up.

One of the most mind-boggling elements of the movie that you have to swallow is that comic book in of themselves tell the stories of these super people. How exactly I’m not really sure, it’s is never explained. Do the creators know deep down about the existence of these super people? I that their power? Is it something about the medium itself that prophesies them?

The movie is undeniably unpredictable. There is the classic twist that Shamalyan is known for and it’s a pretty good one here, and it gets near the end and it’s not done with it’s reveals, this is a movie that has a whole plot to fill it, instead of relying on the action. However, while I was surprised during it I wasn’t awed. Unpredictable does not equal good, there I was watching the fate of these characters, some of which have existed for nearly twenty years and it was just disappointing. All I really felt was that I didnt see it coming and even if I did I didnt like it.

As an alternative flavor for the abundance of Superhero movies we have to choose from these days this movie is anything but paint by numbers, as the conclusion to a movie that started in 1996 and we have been waiting for for over twenty years it pulls some things that are just a let down, as an analysis of myth, comic books and society itself it thinks it’s profound while just being complicated. Though, like an M. Knight Shamalyan movie, this is probably his best movie since…well since Unbreakable. Starting with The Visit he has slowly reassembled himself as a filmmaker and credit has to be given to progress.