Category Archives: Theatre

An interview with Rachel Boulton, writer and Director of Exodus.

The Director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently met with Rachel Boulton, Artistic Director of Motherlode, they discussed her background, thoughts on the arts in Wales and Motherlodes new production ‘Exodus’ which premiers at the Coliseum Theatre,  Aberdare on the 5th of October before touring.

Hi Rachael great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

Hello! I’m Rachael, I’m from Cwmbran and spent most of my time growing up in Newport, going to places like TJ’s and OTT’s when they were still about, not to mention Zanzibar’s! I was really lucky to get full funding when I was seventeen to attend Joan Littlewood’s E15 Acting School, where I spent four years training as an actor and theatre maker. It was great because the ethos of the school supported people like me from working class backgrounds, unlike some drama schools at that time. The training was rooted in European theatre styles, which taught me the importance of ensemble. It’s been ten years since I left, and I’m still using the tools they gave me. I had a lot of other dodgy jobs in between mind! Worst was being Jordan’s personal waitress at an ultimate fighting championship event, and I didn’t even get a tip!

You have written and are currently directing Motherolodes latest production ‘Exodus’ which is “Set in South Wales on the eve that the last factory in the town closes, four neighbours hatch a plan that is literally pie in the sky.” The issues faced by local towns in South Wales face are of real relevance to Welsh communities. How have Motherlode approached this important topic?

I first talked to RCT Theatres about Exodus in 2015. They felt it was relevant to their audiences, and generously supported me, alongside Creu Cymru, to develop the play. Exodus is a comedy in which the plot follows a young woman called Mary. Mary is our main character who works for a modern high street chain. She’s a challenging character, and hard to identify at first, as you can’t really pin her down. She’s an every day woman, not on the left, not on the right, and working a good job to maybe have a holiday and be able to afford nice things. She can’t be polarised (despite our best efforts) and is confused about the world. Over the last few years during our residency at RCT, I talked to people from an older generation, including a truly amazing woman who used to work at the old Burberry factory in Treorchy before it closed. This was used as inspiration for a background setting, to help tell a younger narrative – Mary’s story. Our R&D’s took place at RCT Theatres, and after taking on feedback from numerous sharings and open rehearsals, the rest of the writing was done mainly in Cwmbran, where my family live.

Arts Council of Wales has recently launched its new Corporate Plan “For the benefit of all… ” In it, the body’s mission for 2018-23 was unveiled – “Making the arts central to the life and wellbeing of the nation” One of the two priorities it has committed itself two are, “Promoting Equalities as the foundation of a clear commitment to reach more widely and deeply into all communities across Wales. “

Motherlode describe themselves as a company who “Work in communities and locations across Wales and the South West, to create entertaining, relevant new theatre that is inspired by real life stories.” It would appear then that you are already as a company fulfilling this ACW priority? Would you like to see more investment into this method of creating new art forms?

Well, we’re still very much in our infancy as a company, being only four years old, but we’re trying to grow in the right direction. In four years we’ve developed four shows in partnership with RCT Theatres, including bringing local young people together to create new work, staged both locally and nationally. We also produced our first international tour in partnership with RCT Theatres. It would be a great thing if venues across Wales like RCT Theatres were given more money and resources to find, support, and develop local artists. At the moment, many venues can barely keep the doors open and the lights on. As a company, we’d like to have the infrastructure to develop a regular program of work and activity that has a genuine lasting impact. At the moment, like many other small companies, it can be hard to do this justice with project only funding. However, I think we’re off to a good start, and we’re very lucky to be supported by venues and organisations who like working with us, including RCT Theatres, Blackwood Miners Institute, Night Out Wales, Creu Cymru, Chapter, Wales Millennium Centre and Bristol Old Vic.

Exodus rehearsals credit Tom Flannery 

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?

I found working in theatre impossible to navigate until I turned 30. Despite being given the support to train in my twenties, and work with companies like the RSC and Royal Opera House, I still felt out of place in rehearsal rooms and audiences. I couldn’t articulate myself in the way that I wanted to. It felt like the culture of theatre was set in a very particular way, a culture I wasn’t a part of, from the play text down to the ticket sales. An employer once said to me in an interview for a assistant director job, “ I can’t believe you’re applying for this job when you’ve not seen any of my work!” I replied, “that’s because most people can’t afford your bloody tickets” Moving home five years ago to work as an emerging director for NTW was a turning point. I was encouraged to develop my own work in my own voice and out of that Motherlode was born. Getting Motherlode off the ground in the last few years has taken pretty much all of my focus, and so far we’ve been really lucky to be supported by ACW across various projects. This hasn’t left much time for other work, but, some includes; working with NTW as assistant director on their shows ‘Tonypandemonium’ and ‘Crouch, Touch Pause, Engage’ and as community director after ‘Mother Courage and Her Children.’ I’ve also worked as an associate director at Out Of Joint, created, produced and directed Motherlode’s first off broadway run, directed ‘Blackout’ by Davey Anderson with a young company for National Theatre’s Dorfman Stage, and will be collaborating with Theatr Clwyd after generous support from Creu Cymru. I’m also looking forward to taking Exodus to the Finborough Theatre in November, and giving Motherlode a platform in London for the first time.

Exodus rehearsals credit Tom Flannery

Congratulations on recently becoming a parent. Creatives such as   Tamara Harvey,  Artistic Director of Theatr Clwyd have increased awareness of the challenges parents can face working in the theatre, with her #workingmum tweets. As a new parent are there ways that we approach creative practices that might offer more opportunities for working parents to juggle the demands of work and home life?

While pregnant, I spent a few days at Theatr Clwyd. Tamara was pregnant at the same time, and already a mother. She took time to tell me that it is absolutely possible to work in theatre and be a mother, which I really appreciated. Writer Bethan Marlow was there too, and she said the same. Clwyd’s Gwennan Mair has also been incredible, moving an R&D around to support me through my pregnancy.

It’s been three months since I had my baby, and I’ve just come back to work. Being freelance without the support of an employer or large organisation behind me is a challenge, but, I feel incredibly lucky to be doing a job that I love with great people, particularly Angela Gould at RCT Theatres, Nia Skyrme and Emma Vickery…The whole team’s a treat. I was asked to tweet about being a working mum in theatre, but, for me, there’s so little that’s sacred these days, I wanted to keep my personal life personal, and in short, I’m simply crap on twitter! But, I’m open to talk about it, if asked…

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

That’s a good question. I would invest in forming young companies in underrepresented areas and make it affordable, if not free. I think everyone, regardless of background should have access to the arts,especially now they’re heavily cut through education. For me, its not necessarily just about nurturing young talent, but creating a safe space for people to express themselves.

What excites you about the arts?

It’s capacity to create change through story. Collective experience.

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

Apart from childbirth? The last thing I experienced before having my baby was a remount of Belonging by Re-Live/Karin Diamond at Chapter. I couldn’t take my eyes off the audience throughout the play who were deeply moved, laughing, sobbing, chatting for ages afterwards. The team tapped into a struggle with a lot of dignity in that piece.

Many thanks for your time Rachel

Tickets are on sale for Exodus now for performances at The Coliseum Theatre Aberdare (5 & 6 October), Theatr Clwyd (9 & 10 October), Llandinam Village Hall (11 October), Redhouse Cymru Merthyr Tydfil (12 October),  Chapter Cardiff (17 – 20 October), Riverfront Newport (23 October), Gwynfe Village Hall (24 October), Torch Theatre Milford Haven (25 October), Blackwood Miners’ Institute (26 October), Theatr Brycheiniog Brecon (27 October), Cwmavon Village Hall (30 October) and Finborough Theatre London (5-20 November).

 

Review WOLAB and Theatre N16, Bunker Theatre by Tanica Psalmist

It was amazing to witness WOLAB in partnership with N16 work alongside ten incredibly talented, young actor-writers. The artists involved in the inaugural showcase fused comedy, culture, pleasure, romance, passion and open, homosexual relationship scenes. It wasn’t a space of shyness, politeness, but real lived matters daily presented in our everyday lives.

The diversity of the artists set strong, ethnic and authentic scenes. Some artists had shown they were bilingual and had incorporated traditional elements when exploiting their culture, whether it was an Asian lady eating with chop sticks or a Ghanaian guy imitating his native accent when impersonating his mum, all of these aspects stimulated the power of culture and acceptance of each artist’s differences inputted in to their plays.

The proactivity of their self-created work reflected in their monologues and co-written duologues exhibiting the nature of power when creative voices work together to combine their time, energy and respect for each other. The artists were enthusiastic, contagious and hysterically funny, having the audiences crying with laughter. No-matter how big or small the topics were the artists ability to create an effect or mood to their individual or double acts stimulated feelings that successfully moved the audience one way or another, which was impeccable!

The running order consisted of fifteen mini plays, which transitioned majestically when going in to the next play constructively.   The professionalism, tightness and energy were phenomenal! There was minor props usage so the fact they created engaging, captivating scenes with mostly just their energy was entertaining and fun to watch. ‘WOLAB’ is a brilliant platform for all young, talented artists to create in a space that clearly accept all ideas and offers fantastic opportunities for all emerging artists to perform to the best of their ability. I thoroughly enjoyed watching!

 Tanica Psalmist.

Review Misty, Trafalgar Studios by Tanica Psalmist

The show began with phenomenal performer Arinze Kene who is also the playwright, centre stage with a microphone in his hand; accompanied by a pianist stage right (Adrian McLeod) and a drummer (Shiloh Coke) stage left. We see the stage radiate a bright light on to Arinze who rhythmically and poetically starts flowing to the fiery melody. The musicians on beat play along to his sonnets.

His vigorous word play subconsciously re-enacts visual imagery of vivid scenes re-occurring within our society that’s familiarised to some, and sensitising to those who’s advantages prevent them from being able to emphasise. This allow them to sympathise to his audible narratives that emotionally express an enchanting variety of themes from,  repossession, gentrification, brutality, inner savagery to then financial difficulties, dysfunctional family, pain, rivalry, conviction and his daily penalty.

His spoken word obtained visual contrasts of the stigma attached to street violence and the road life. The performer metaphorically uses biology when expressing his philosophy. During the first set he makes reference to himself being a virus, while he refers to everyday people as blood cells, red and white. This conveyed that he didn’t identify himself amongst the general public. The first track performed was entitled ‘City Creature’ which contained strong emphasis of a born and bred city liver. The mention of ‘Night bus’ repetitively with increased speed, had given off a deeper sense of a tragedy happening fatally, resonated through his raged energy.

He impressively built momentum as he creatively daunted an epic picture of folks feeling anxious when in the presence of troublesome viruses, entering their way on to the Night bus. Climax is built when focusing on blood temperatures rising due to individuals hesitating in silence. He then increases the intensity where you see his irritancy, not wanting to be benevolent or see the significance until this blood cell physically receives heartless punishment.

That’s when voicemail messages played aloud on set from his friend’s Raymond and Donna are role-played by the musicians. They were stood speaking into microphones behind a booth on stage, but your attention was fixed on Arinze who had his back turned to them listening to their messages, the sound effects smartly made it seem like the sound played from his mobile. Controversial discussions arose from his friends mentioning Arinze’s story fitted in to a ‘Generic angry young blackman’ ‘Modern minstrel show’ stereotype, being a typical ‘Nigga play’, which upset him.

As he makes his way downstage we see him blow in to an orange balloon; placing it in front of him, gazing at the air gushing out, until it deflates. This represented elements in his life he ignored but was conscious of. Balloons were a consistent element appearing in the play, as well as regular meetings with a producer. In the first meeting Arinze’s back is facing the audience, however his face is reflected on to a cubical screen from a hidden camera zooming in to his face. The producer’s presence despite never being shown was strong due to inputs of voiceovers and sound bites smartly used from various movies.

Another consistency throughout the production was the presence of a little girl. Who was first seen speaking upright as Arinze’s elder sister, whilst the band played crescendo. She addresses him reading from a pulpit in a letter style; appreciating his urban gig theatre piece and congratulating him on his writing job but then criticising him for his insensitivity to the black community. Humour is brought to the stage when an assistant stage manager appears to comfort the little girl crying, due to her brother’s comical retaliation to her lecturing him about his playwright.

The entire production takes you on an emotional rollercoaster with Arinze’s desire to take his little sister to the zoo explore the pretty animals like he didn’t get to, finding out a neighbour unexpectedly had left the cultural infrastructure, feeling forced to immune to the systems renovation, feeling homesick after being kicked out from his mother’s house and not welcomed in by his uncle, injustice and terminated relationships from dislikes on the political concept of his playwright.

During the start of the second half, Arinze is heard talking from inside of an orange balloon. When he gets out of the balloon, excitedly he speaks out on his revelation. Breaking down that if viruses invade and raid the body, people like himself can’t be a virus but a blood cell to. After getting this revelation we see him pulling himself out of the balloon which indicates him no longer feeling oppressed and threatened by the system.

As Arinze performs his track ‘Geh-Geh’ he analytically talks on perceptions of gentrification simultaneously, whilst leading in to his experience of police brutality brilliantly. This was achieved by visually intensifying the flashing, lighting effects to create imagery.

During the end of the play after hearing another criticism from another friend about his culturally ridiculous playwright, we see Arinze’s mood change. Expressions on Arinze’s face become hysterical as he repeats the word to himself, stomping his feet and dancing as he performs his final track entitled ‘Jungle Shit’. The content within the song makes his character come alive, free and charismatic proclaiming his identity and breaking-down his interpretation of ‘Jungle Shit’ visualising the exact depiction using rhetorical questions to define what jungle shit really means and why the description ‘Jungle shit’ empowers him.

Misty is truly one of the most out spoken, inspirational, metaphorically excellent, comical and unique productions. Brilliantly innovative and imaginative reflecting real life precautions, live music, mediums plus many more all fused in to make it an exceptionally powerful production as himself.

Misty can be seen at Trafalgar Studios

Tanica Psalmist

Review of “Vincent River” at Jacob’s Market, Cardiff by Roger Barrington

 

(4 / 5)

 

Philip Ridley’s tense two-hander receives its first performance in Cardiff with the action relocated to the Welsh capital.

In-Yer-Face theatre associated playwright Philip Ridley is renowned for his uncompromising scripts and action, and nearly twenty years on from its Hampstead Theatre premiere, “Vincent River” still packs a punch.

In a famous review of 1994 of Ridley’s “Ghost from a Perfect Place” Michael Billingham, probably Britain’s most renowned theatre critic launched a rant on the gratuitous violence on display. In turn Billingham was criticised for not getting the point.

In “Vincent River” the explicit violence is only spoken about in a flashback”, and it is identified with lengthy soliloquys from Davey, (Aly Cruickshank) towards the end, more reminicent of another highly regarded Ridley play, “The Pitchfork Disney”.

As a gay man, Ridley often writes from his own personal experience, and this is shown in “Vincent River”, not only in terms of homosexual alienation, but in the character of Anita, (Victoria Pugh) who has been forced to relocate due to the unwelcome publicity in the aftermath of her son Vincent’s murder.

Davey has been stalking Anita for a while, anxious to offload something  that is weighing heavily on his mind. After plucking up the courage to confront Anita in her new flat,  and after an uncertain nervy start, the two of them engage in a feisty dialogue over the remaining 80 minutes. Ridley develops the character by both of them relating stories about their past –  Anita with Vincent and Davey with his trophy girlfriend Rachael and his dying mother.

The climax is memorable with Anita bawling a Primal Howl, (I wanted to write Primal Scream to honour a favourite band, but it is a howl not a scream), that will echo in the memory of the audience long after the end of the play.

The blinding light as Davey leaves Anita’s flat may indicate a kind of release from the revelations that the charged conversation had revealed, but there is no catharsis in this play. You can’t really expect this in a play where a gay young man dies from a frenzied, pointless homophobic attack.

The question is why is Davey feeling a craving to speak to Anita? He found the body and reported it in to the police, but isn’t he too personally involved. That’s what Anita is wondering.

Ridley’s naturalistic dialogue urges fine performances from the two actors, and he receives it here. Aly Cruickshank  who impressed me recently in Spilt Milk’s, “Five Green Bottles” provides another edgy performance, at times deserving the audience’s hostility and at others our sympathy.

Experienced actress, in all formats of performance,  Victoria Pugh offers at different  times an angry, grieving, sexy inquisitor a performance of subtly and emotional depth. Although, at times, when she showed anger and spoke more quickly, I did have a little difficulty understanding her. Mind this might be down to me, for in Aberdare, I do have some problems understanding my neighbours when they get agitated… which sadly is quite a regular occurrence!

Luke Hereford’s assured direction  complements the two actors, although I think he has a little work to do in the middle of the play, that dragged a little, but that could be down to first night blues. Also a strategic repositioning of empty bottles may be considered.

Composer Josh Bowles’s input worked well within a space that exudes a great atmosphere for such an intense play as “Vincent River”.

One problem that I have with this play, from a didactic standpoint,  is that audience members, whether gay or straight will already be sympathetic to the cause. I can’t envisage many homophobes parting with a tenner to watch this.

I shall finish with one sobering thought. It has been reported in The Independent newspaper last year, that in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, homophobic attacks increased by 147%.  The re-emergence of nationalism and far-right governments have a tarnished history with regard to minority groups and one only has to think about Nazi Germany who persecuted homosexuals as well as Jews, Gypsies and political opponents with a relish that new no bounds.

“Vincent River” is a thrilling intense drama that gets the treatment from No Boundaries Theatre that it deserves.

An interview that I conducted recently with director Luke Hereford about this production can be found here.

http://getthechance.wales/2018/09/11/preview-with-interview-of-vincent-river-at-jacobs-market-cardiff-19-21-september-2018/

The play uses pervasive language and covers mature themes and is deemed suitable for those aged over 14.

Its run ends on 21st September.  I understand that tickets are only available for the performance this evening, (20th September).

 

Roger Barrington

Review: The Awkward Years at The Other Room by Roger Barrington

Photo credits Kirsten McTernan

 

 

(3.5 / 5)

 

Matthew Bulgo’s somewhat uneven monodrama, relates the story of Lily, a twenty-something year old  girl trying to come to terms with her disordered existence.

I am having trouble making out the reason for the title. The Awkward Years in psychology refers to adolescence, that period in your teenage years full of angst and  difficulty communicating with your parents that many of us endure.

But Lily is not an adolescent. We discover that she has been employed as a swimming pool attendant for ten years and had also attended university. The sheer mundanessof this job, leads to her voluntary resignation after being confronted by her unrespected boss about her dozing off whilst on duty.  Lily is probably dozing off because of the somnolent repetitive nature of her job – she exclaims that in ten year, she has never had to rescue anyone.

When she dozes off, she dreams of drowning, thereby signifying her struggle for survival as a person. Maybe her outburst that she has never been called upon to rescue someone, means that she feels that she needs to save someone else from their plight.

Matthew Bulgo’s playlet, (running time 55 minutes) is at its best in the opening scenes where Lily relates her dissatisfaction after a bout of casual sex. “I thought about masturbation, but couldn’t be fucked” is one of a handful of funny lines. The playwright skillfully draws you in so that you like Lily and thereafter care about what she relates.

Rather like Harold Pinter’s “No Man’s Land” the utterance of the title, The Awkward Years, triggers off a transformation in the nature of the play. It is at this stage where the play weakens, where a rather  dull segment ensues where Lily outpours her angst to the audience.  However Bulgo retrieves the situation  in the final tender scene.

One thing that has impressed me since Dan Jones took over as Artistic Director of The Other Room is that under his stage direction, he manages to solicit outstanding performances from his actors. Lauren O’Leary has to release a gamut of emotions as Lily. With her attractive native Irish lilt she delivers her lines at times ferociously, (like a character in a  Sean O’Casey play), at others with a comedic touch of excellent timing.  On the basis of this performance, she is clearly a young actress to keep your eye on in the future.

I’m not sure whether Dan Jones’s use of robotic gyrating to display scene changes quite works for me. It does provide striking imagery well made use of by Angharad Evans effective lighting, but seems to get in the way a little of the natural flow of the dialogue.

Although there are similarities to Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s “Fleabag”, Matthew Bulgo has penned an intelligent and entertaining short play, enhanced by an outstanding performance by Lauren O’Leary, which is worth travelling a distance to see.

“The Awkward Years” continues its run at The Other Room, Cardiff until 29th September.

http://www.otherroomtheatre.com/en/whats-on/seasons/autumn-2018/the-awkward-years-by-matthew-bulgo/

Due to pervasive language throughout and mature themes, the play is intended for an adult audience.

 

Roger Barrington

Review The Flop at Theatr Brycheiniog by Roger Barrington

 

 

(4 / 5)

 

The Flop produced by Cardiff’s Hijinx  theatre company in association with Brighton’s Spymonkey arrived in Brecon fresh from a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The six-strong cast is equally split between  able-bodied actors and those with learning difficulties. This i s a feature of earlier Hijinx productions and on the basis of the seamless integration on show in The Flop, works brilliantly.

At the heart of this short play, is the physical theatre of Jacques Lecoq. This great French mimic and teacher, believed that performers should work in such a way that brings out the best in their talents rather than be directed to work to a standard form.  The end result should be one where the actors are liberated from realism and to provide a truly imaginative and creative forcefulness to their performance.

Spymonkey are a leading physical theatre company with an international reputation, having collaborated with household names such as Cirque du Soleil with their comedy routines in  Zumanity – Another Side of Cirque du Soleil which they presented in Los Vegas. Their style of  madcap buffoonery is clearly apparent  in this production.

The show is a dream for the student of theatre. It is fun to spot the many theatrical styles on display. Besides physical theatre, you have The Theatre of the Absurd, (check out the surreal giant hedgehog in the final scene), The Theatre of Cruetly,  Commedia dell’arte,  farce, pantomime and musicals. All packed into seventy minutes of High Jinx. Hijinx’s ability to break constantly break down “the fourth wall” and the introduction of audience participation that results from it, works a treat.

The story revolves around the mad trials by impotence that existed in Pre-Revolutionary France. Unable to provide an heir, the Marquis de Langey, (Iain Gibbons) is subjected to the ridicule of public exposure when having to prove his ability to achieve sexual potency. brought about by his wife’s (Jess Mabel Jones) Machiavellian aunt, (Hannah McPake). The latter also doubling up as the Judge in the subsequent trial.

It would be wrong to select any individual members of the cast for praise, as they are uniformly excellent in their roles. Ben Pettitt-Wade’s direction keeps the show’s relentless comedy running at a breathtaking pace. At 70 minutes duration, it is just about right, for a lengthier production may prove to be a little wearing on the audience.

The Flop continues it run in England and Wales through to mid-October. Full details can be found at

http://www.hijinx.org.uk/the-flop/

 

Roger Barrington

Review Underground Railroad Game, Soho Theatre by Tanica Psalmist

Underground Railroad Game created and performed by Jennifer Kidwell and Scott R Sheppard, contains cathartic elements of sexual chemistry, physical attraction and subjective teachings on the history of the American civil war, which was played by two casts throughout the entire play. These two casts interchangeably would switch their roles; black women playing a slave owner and a white male playing a Southern farmer in the 19th century. Who desperately wanted to help this woman he knew, situated in the racist Deep South, escape across the river where she’d be safer, this was shown during the beginning of the play. We witnessed how their intimate relationship grew during various sequences based on this element.

We then saw these casts transition in to the roles of high school teachers after a dress change. They were very immersive, smartly engaging the audience as their pupils at Hanover Middle school, in Pennsylvania. The class sessions they held as teachers were about the project we are about to conduct on the American Civil war that raged through Hanover in the summer of 1863.

Soldiers were smartly addressed throughout the play to help the audience follow the conclusion of the two sided story of the 19th century characters. Different coloured toy soldiers of grey and blue were found underneath the chairs of the audience members, which represented the follow through in the sequences to the overview of the slaves escape from the safe-house ending either fatally, tragically or mysteriously happily.

Interestingly, the teacher’s love affair became guilt and pleasure when they made hysterically funny, direct stereotypical race jokes, whilst touching on sexual innuendo jokes at the same time to one other. This made watching their love affair funny and intriguing.

When they transitioned back into the sequence within the 19th century, the scene was focused on explicit scenes between the slave and the white farmer’s historic intimacy, displaying the sexual image of nursemaids with their white masters. In reverse to this, arose sexual tension with the teachers through domination and humiliation.

Toxic energy kicked off further when a naughty student cheekily in the class wrote ‘niggerlover’ bold and clear, crossing out the word safe-house on a white board.

When the teachers saw this, you couldn’t hear a pin drop in the air. The open space became a playground of hate as the women began fighting with him, whilst he’s restricting her it further angered her; resulting in them aggressively trashing the set, discovering their fate. The effects of the mental state due a controversial political culture became transparent during this stage.

The male teacher in this situation instinctively felt he had to prove his feelings, which left the women re-opening her scars. The pain of her history psychologically made her sexual tension towards the guy sadomasochistic; it left us to question the impact of modern America and the world in its entirety from slavery and its left residue.

The sexual outburst in how the male teacher responded to sadism, triggered thoughts on whether the male teacher erotically expressing his love for her was genuine and sincere; or if his love was out of curiosity to satisfy his fantasy from how the black woman appears. This incident brought their love affair to a close, leaving their feelings hanging in the air. You really got a deeper sense of the systems role on the abolishment of slavery and the psychological scars left behind in this current generation, especially having the election from Obama to Trump in modern day America.

A powerful production!

Underground Railroad Game at Soho Theatre until Sat 13th October.

Tanica Psalmist.

News : Welsh production set to take off down the high street in Aberdare and land in London…

Welsh production set to take off down the high street in Aberdare and land in London…

Welsh theatre company Motherlode in co-production with RCT Theatres, (whose last production The Good Earth toured to Broadway and was described by the New York Times as ​“Wonderfully acted ” ​and by The New Yorker as ​“A lovely Welsh import”) are on the road again with ​Exodus, a world premiere of another uniquely Welsh story which will head to London following an autumn Welsh tour.

Motherlode pride themselves on telling relevant new drama that is inspired by real life stories and their new production ​Exodus​, written and directed by Rachael Boulton, is no exception.

Set in South Wales on the eve that the last factory in the town closes, four neighbours hatch a plan that is literally pie in the sky.

Writer and Director of Exodus, Rachel Bolton

Boulton says; “ Four neighbours gather in an allotment, decide to build a plane, and take off down the high street. Past the butchers, past the curry house and above the chapel in search of a life free from politics and the grind. It’s a tragic comedy that I was very lucky to develop with a great team of people and I really hope audiences across Wales will enjoy it.”

Boulton’s last production with her company Motherlode, The Good Earth, which was also co-produced by RCT Theatres, told the story of a Valleys community torn apart by their council and big business and was so successful it played on the New York stage with The Stage newspaper describing the work as ‘giving a voice to the voiceless’.

Motherlode, ​The Good Earth​.

Bolton continues: ​“The play is a lot of fun, but contains real stories about real people with real challenges. I think that’s why Motherlode’s work might resonate with audiences inside and outside of Wales. We were very fortunate to have a strong response when taking The Good Earth to New York and we’re delighted to have been invited to take Exodus to London in November too”

The production, which will tour to 12 venues across Wales this October from Milford Haven in the west to Newport in the east and Mold in the North, will open at The Coliseum Theatre Aberdare, to mark the 80th birthday of the ​beautiful 1930’s art deco 650 seat theatre,​ on Friday 5 of October.

Angela Gould, Theatre Programme and Audience Development Manager for RCT Theatres, who are co-producers on Exodus, says: ​“2018 sees the 80th birthday of the Coliseum Theatre, and what better way to celebrate than to mark the anniversary with a year of amazing and vibrant events – including spectacular performances, special events, participation activities and fun for everyone!”

Gould continues: ​“This landmark year for our iconic and beautiful building culminates with this unique performance co-produced by RCT Theatres. Developed in the heart of our community, Exodus is an integral part of our 80th birthday celebrations and we can’t wait for it to open here.”

Blisteringly funny, this heart-warming drama is accompanied by a live original score by David Grubb with choreography from Emma Vickery culminating in a new adventure that makes anything seem possible.

Tickets are on sale now for performances at The Coliseum Theatre Aberdare (5 & 6 October), Theatr Clwyd (9 & 10 October), Llandinam Village Hall (11 October), Redhouse Cymru Merthyr Tydfil (12 October), Taliesin Swansea (13 October), Chapter Cardiff (17 – 20 October), Riverfront Newport (23 October), Gwynfe Village Hall (24 October), Torch Theatre Milford Haven (25 October), Blackwood Miners’ Institute (26 October), Theatr Brycheiniog Brecon (27 October), Cwmavon Village Hall (30 October) and Finborough Theatre London (5-20 November).

 

Review Blak, Whyte, Gray, Blue Boy Entertainment, Barbican Centre by Tanica Psalmist

The sensory of the dancers’ movements projected an aura of an overwhelming system, which conveyed power and pain from the three dancers’ bodies. Uniquely taking eyes through a figurative journey, as their bodies effortlessly would vigorously flop and rise, their fluidity hypnotised, leaving you mesmerised to the depths of how political distress affects the mental and emotional state.

The music was upbeat. In beat we witnessed a fusion of dance styles such as krumping, popping, electro funk gliding to the counts within the music flow that went to the rhythm of 1,2,3,4 but automatically speeded up to their heartbeats chanting 2,4,6,8. This soon boomed to a higher frequency as they began spinning, breakdancing and exploiting various other hip hop movements, perfectly synchronised to the music produced by Michael Asante.

The three dancers were all dressed in white, visually moving our brains due to the expressions of strain and their reactions of torment in vain. Their clothing interestingly had straps, tied down to their chests. You could feel the dancers’ hearts race, pumping to the counts of 10, 20, 30, and 40. The repetitive moves majestically synced. Projecting moves of life and power whilst they embraced an emotional energy, triggered by a world we all know so well.

The second half brought even more intensity to the stage. A batch of five guys enchanted moves of ill health, in an oppressive nature. Their violence embodied was evidently from a segregated culture. Hope was their supply, their influence was their leader, precautions were their discipline, and the misguided was their teacher. These five guys were full of anger and despair, soon joined with the three dancers seen at the start, who slid along the floor. The dancers’ resonated hurt from colonisation, mixed in with an identity crisis leaving one of the main dancers fatally hurt; as if he had been wounded, portraying weakness, no vacant strength in his strive to fight.

When he was solitary on stage, the lights were flooded with a sparkly white, glossy effect with smoke filtered across the stage. The dancer during his solo dance act was regenerating, embodying martial art movements as a sign of him strengthening and empowering.

A scarlet cloth was draped around this dancer, which instinctively held a connection to culture. We saw that what was lost had been restored. As the dancers re-joined him they all effectively started tribal dancing. Incorporated into the dance moves were light bouncing, embracing, smiling, culture, architecture of hearts rejoicing, as their bodies bounced like tigers. It became an expression of unity and life between the past and present of home manifested through hip hop dancing.

The artistic designs on stage, blossomed the audience with amazement as masks were slowly hanging down on set, the room went dark revealing these masks to now have vibrant, glowing colours which brilliantly had the same facial patterns duplicated on to the dancers faces. The luminance radiated from their trousers, bursting colours of blue, with a reddish, orange tint.

The music consisted of heavy, deep drums and heartfelt string instruments. The ambience was uplifting as it radiated emotions of tranquillity, hope, victory and a full tribe of life. Each dancer individually performed a solo as themselves, which conveyed their known identity. The colours from the projection resembled a sunset in the background displaying colours that were warm and exotic. The artistic designer wonderfully exhibited streams of a liquid gold sunset display as they danced like it was their last time. Full of energy, fire and enjoyment, zero stopping involved.

The final dance moves had huge arm swinging incorporated, with big feet stomps and jumps symbolising freedom and happiness. In slow motion as the music began to fade and the magical sunset went down we saw the elegancy of them walking off into sunset together, representing strong unity within their community, who were born to survive.

A powerful production!

Tanica Psalmist  

Review Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Peacock Theatre by Hannah Goslin

 

(4 / 5)

 

What’s better than dance?

Dance and comedy.

While I enjoy a good ballet, Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo, or ‘Trocks’ as they are affectionately known as, are a triumph.

Ballet is beautiful, but Ballet can be ever so serious.

The Trocks take snippets from real ballets, such as Swan Lake and Trovatiara and present them in a humorous way – playing off the fears of ballet dancers and the mistakes that could happen, and in put their own slapstick amongst truly beautiful dance and technicality.

The Trocks are all male, dressed, colloquially, in ‘drag’ but still play both male and female parts with absolute brilliance – switching from serious ballet to comedy, they are nothing but awe-inspiring and engrossing.

The set is like any ballet – the costumes as opulent as any ballet and their beauty is beyond words. You feel that it should be wrong to laugh, but they somehow mix it so well that you laugh but also really appreciate their talent, stamina and grace. And gosh, they know the right time to pause, the right faces to pull and how to work us audience members.

I would suggest if you are new to ballet, to first see the Trocks – they are a lovely introduction to dance where it does not feel too serious, you are left time to appreciate the quality of dance, but also to relax into a comical and fun evening.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is also visiting the Wales Millennium Centre at the beginning of October – Do. Not. Miss. Them!

Hannah Goslin