Category Archives: Theatre

REVIEW Briefs-The Second Coming, London Wonderground

Briefs_jachfjej_700_480_60_c1

Inside the European Spiegeltent on London’s Southbank, a new world is formed.

This cabaret, fringe style hub hosts a huge supply of performances to see, all different and all spectacular.

London Wonderground introduced me to the Briefs – a circus, cabaret, boylesque drag show from Australia.

As a fan of all these types of performances, I thought I would know what I was heading for, but in reality, I could not have ever guessed !

We were introduced to a host who not only welcomed you to their show, in a friendly and personal manner but also cracked many a joke and innuendo that could only be described as side splitting. Her costumes were ever changing and lived up to the notoriety of drag acts for being stunningly beautiful – from her costume,  to her make up,  to her on stage persona.

Not one group of performers has ever had so many skills and used them so well together in such a polished show. Dallas DellaForce brought her stunning change of drag acts, lip syncing and changing her personality from a Cher lookalike, to a posh dog owner, to even a boylesque balloon act with a split personality syndrome. Her beauty, charm and fantastic acting skills won over every audience member.

Acts such as a young gentleman able to complete a rubik’s cube in little more than 3 minutes while dressed as a cheeky school boy made everyone astonished and giggle. His skill in as little as yo-yo tricks, while talking about it here may seem tedious, but was in fact awe-inspiring, linking this into a burlesque routine, also divided the audience from the strong to the prude, releasing the naughty but rude nature of the show.

This continued with acts such as a crazed and clown-like monkey character, who used innuendos and phallic inspired jokes to ensure that this show was not for the faint hearted, but definitely for those with a great sense of humour.

Of course, this wasn’t always the aim of the show. Adult content always ticks a box for me in shows such as this, but moments of sheer awe not only gives a break for those who feel a little shocked, but to also gives a moment for your jaw to drop. A flexible and strong male who was able to contort himself, fly high above us in a hoop performing tricks that you could only wish to do left the room in silence, with the occasional ovation and cheer for the fantastic tricks he was able to do.

Finally, to end the show, a fantastic burlesque act. Beginning in an outfit to die for as a beautiful bird of paradise, ending up in a Dita Von Tease style champagne glass of water, and again, a series of acrobatics movements above us, this act was not only verged classic and elegant, but comedic with water splashing everywhere, drenching the poor premium Wondergound seating areas at the front. Who could ever be mad at water-soaked performance when it was executed so perfectly and gracefully!

An insight into the rehearsal process of Sherman Cymru’s Romeo and Juliet

10635837_720734207963260_6358334743306274100_n

Chris Gordon and Sophie Melville, who play Romeo and Juliet.

On Thursday the 11th of September, I was invited to go and see a rehearsal of Romeo and Juliet at the Sherman Theatre Cymru, Cardiff. In my lifetime I’ve seen countless Romeo and Juliet productions, each one trying to bring their own stamp towards it. While some ideas work well, some productions were trying to hard to be unique therefore taking away the real essence of what the play was about. I was nervous and excited when entering the rehearsal space, as the company was only two weeks out of six into their rehearsal process. I believe it takes many months to master any Shakespearian play and the fact they’ve been given six is quite risky. Rachel O’Riordan, directing this production gave us an insight into her mind, showing us a snippet of how she will take on one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.

 

The first scene we watched was Act 2 Scene 4 where the Nurse looks for Romeo in order to gain some confidence with him in terms of marrying Juliet. This whole scene is already filled with moments of hilarity and great characterisation. The relationship between the actors on stage and off is a delight to see. The atmosphere is filled with driven energy, so much lightheartedness and fun. Rachel provides a great working space for her actors so they can experiment on how they can expand their acting skills.

 

The second scene we saw was a complete contrast to the first. This scene, Act 3 Scene 3 is where Romeo is talking to Friar Lawrence and finding out he’s banished from Verona. The company ran through the scene once and then sat down with Rachel in the middle of them exploring every single line, every word. They discussed what the line would mean in Shakespearian times and why it would seem unorthodox to say it now. Rachel directed this scene brilliantly and showed me a deeper insight into the mind of Romeo. The collaboration between experienced actors who have been in the industry for many years and actors who are just starting out was mesmerising. They bounced of each other, learned from each other and therefore made the work so much more engaging. Rachel’s experience as a director demonstrated that she knew just how to motivate and engage the actors in her company.

 

The only thing I would have liked to have seen is a scene with Juliet. Personally I detest this character and generally the way people perceive her to be. I’ve often seen the character played to be whiny and just completely annoying. In the Q&A session I asked Rachel how she would direct the portrayal of Juliet in the production. It seemed to me that Rachel also shared some of my reservations of the representation of the character of Juliet on stage. When I asked Rachel she agreed that Juliet is a strong character and shouldn’t be played down. It’ll be interesting to see how Sophie Melville, playing this character will interpret this role.

 

Overall through this insight into the rehearsal process it is clear Rachel has spent a great deal of time trying to figure out exactly how she wants to create her directorial vision of Romeo and Juliet. I’m excited to see this production and you should be too. There are many great actors in this production and they all bring their own personal edge to the characters we know. Rachel O’Riordan has great directing skills and I have a lot of faith that she will do this play justice.

 

Romeo and Juliet plays at the Sherman Theatre Cardiff on the 2-18 of October.

 

http://www.shermancymru.co.uk/performance/literature/romeo-juliet/

An insight into the rehearsal process of Sherman Cymru’s Romeo and Juliet by Kaitlin Wray

10635837_720734207963260_6358334743306274100_n

Chris Gordon and Sophie Melville, who play Romeo and Juliet.

On Thursday the 11th of September, I was invited to go and see a rehearsal of Romeo and Juliet at the Sherman Theatre Cymru, Cardiff. In my lifetime I’ve seen countless Romeo and Juliet productions, each one trying to bring their own stamp towards it. While some ideas work well, some productions were trying to hard to be unique therefore taking away the real essence of what the play was about. I was nervous and excited when entering the rehearsal space, as the company was only two weeks out of six into their rehearsal process. I believe it takes many months to master any Shakespearian play and the fact they’ve been given six is quite risky. Rachel O’Riordan, directing this production gave us an insight into her mind, showing us a snippet of how she will take on one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.

 

The first scene we watched was Act 2 Scene 4 where the Nurse looks for Romeo in order to gain some confidence with him in terms of marrying Juliet. This whole scene is already filled with moments of hilarity and great characterisation. The relationship between the actors on stage and off is a delight to see. The atmosphere is filled with driven energy, so much lightheartedness and fun. Rachel provides a great working space for her actors so they can experiment on how they can expand their acting skills.

 

The second scene we saw was a complete contrast to the first. This scene, Act 3 Scene 3 is where Romeo is talking to Friar Lawrence and finding out he’s banished from Verona. The company ran through the scene once and then sat down with Rachel in the middle of them exploring every single line, every word. They discussed what the line would mean in Shakespearian times and why it would seem unorthodox to say it now. Rachel directed this scene brilliantly and showed me a deeper insight into the mind of Romeo. The collaboration between experienced actors who have been in the industry for many years and actors who are just starting out was mesmerising. They bounced of each other, learned from each other and therefore made the work so much more engaging. Rachel’s experience as a director demonstrated that she knew just how to motivate and engage the actors in her company.

 

The only thing I would have liked to have seen is a scene with Juliet. Personally I detest this character and generally the way people perceive her to be. I’ve often seen the character played to be whiny and just completely annoying. In the Q&A session I asked Rachel how she would direct the portrayal of Juliet in the production. It seemed to me that Rachel also shared some of my reservations of the representation of the character of Juliet on stage. When I asked Rachel she agreed that Juliet is a strong character and shouldn’t be played down. It’ll be interesting to see how Sophie Melville, playing this character will interpret this role.

 

Overall through this insight into the rehearsal process it is clear Rachel has spent a great deal of time trying to figure out exactly how she wants to create her directorial vision of Romeo and Juliet. I’m excited to see this production and you should be too. There are many great actors in this production and they all bring their own personal edge to the characters we know. Rachel O’Riordan has great directing skills and I have a lot of faith that she will do this play justice.

 

Romeo and Juliet plays at the Sherman Theatre Cardiff on the 2-18 of October.

 

http://www.shermancymru.co.uk/performance/literature/romeo-juliet/

PREVIEW: ‘Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco’ by Gary Owen – Waking Exploits

Anna Poole, Jordan Bernarde, Gwydion Rhys, Sion Pritchard (web)

Pictures by Kirsten McTernan
Described by Guardian critic Michael Billington as ‘a startling debut that spluttered and fizzed like an out-of-control firework’, Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco starts its Welsh tour this week at Chapter in a revival by Waking Exploits. Chapter – famed for showcasing new works alongside old – is the venue where Gary Owen’s stage debut made its first appearance in February 2001. Since then, Owen has found much success as a playwright, now writing for Sherman Cymru, National Theatre Wales and the Royal Court, establishing himself as one of Wales’ most daring and definitive literary voices. This production, however, will bring the play and its writer back to their roots; back home, where they belong.

Jordan Bernarde, Gwydion Rhys 2 (web)
The play, set in small town Wales on a night out, concerns three very different but similarly flawed men whose masculinity is in crisis. Each one is desperate to shed those innate reputations that still haunt them from their schooldays – ‘the geek, the gimp and the bully.’ Owen essentially provides a voice for these men, unleashing a lifetime of frustration through a relentless tirade of visceral, abrasive monologues.

Jordan Bernarde, Sion Pritchard 2 (web)
Waking Exploits have previously been lauded for their ground-breaking, innovative and ambitious projects, performing works by contemporary masters such as Caryl Churchill, Dennis Kelly and Simon Stephens. Also on board is director Matt Ball, formerly the two-year Creative Associate for National Theatre Wales and five-year Artistic Director for Camden People’s Theatre. Its cast will include Jordan Bernarde, Gwydion Rhys and Sion Pritchard. In other words, it is sure to be a good’un.

Sion Pritchard 2 (web)
Gary Owen himself has said of the project, “It will be brilliant, but slightly weird, to see this play being done in Chapter again. It’s been done loads – every year, there are a couple of productions somewhere in the world – but seeing the play that started my career, at the venue where it was first produced, is going to be a huge pleasure. And slightly unsettling.”
After picking up the library’s copy of the play, I am quite pleased to say that I devoured it in one sitting. Coupled with the expertise of the creative team behind it, I expect this production will do it the justice it deserves.

Sion Pritchard, Gwydion Rhys (web)

PREVIEW: ‘Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco’ by Gary Owen – Waking Exploits by Sam Pryce

Anna Poole, Jordan Bernarde, Gwydion Rhys, Sion Pritchard (web)

Pictures by Kirsten McTernan
Described by Guardian critic Michael Billington as ‘a startling debut that spluttered and fizzed like an out-of-control firework’, Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco starts its Welsh tour this week at Chapter in a revival by Waking Exploits. Chapter – famed for showcasing new works alongside old – is the venue where Gary Owen’s stage debut made its first appearance in February 2001. Since then, Owen has found much success as a playwright, now writing for Sherman Cymru, National Theatre Wales and the Royal Court, establishing himself as one of Wales’ most daring and definitive literary voices. This production, however, will bring the play and its writer back to their roots; back home, where they belong.

Jordan Bernarde, Gwydion Rhys 2 (web)
The play, set in small town Wales on a night out, concerns three very different but similarly flawed men whose masculinity is in crisis. Each one is desperate to shed those innate reputations that still haunt them from their schooldays – ‘the geek, the gimp and the bully.’ Owen essentially provides a voice for these men, unleashing a lifetime of frustration through a relentless tirade of visceral, abrasive monologues.

Jordan Bernarde, Sion Pritchard 2 (web)
Waking Exploits have previously been lauded for their ground-breaking, innovative and ambitious projects, performing works by contemporary masters such as Caryl Churchill, Dennis Kelly and Simon Stephens. Also on board is director Matt Ball, formerly the two-year Creative Associate for National Theatre Wales and five-year Artistic Director for Camden People’s Theatre. Its cast will include Jordan Bernarde, Gwydion Rhys and Sion Pritchard. In other words, it is sure to be a good’un.

Sion Pritchard 2 (web)
Gary Owen himself has said of the project, “It will be brilliant, but slightly weird, to see this play being done in Chapter again. It’s been done loads – every year, there are a couple of productions somewhere in the world – but seeing the play that started my career, at the venue where it was first produced, is going to be a huge pleasure. And slightly unsettling.”
After picking up the library’s copy of the play, I am quite pleased to say that I devoured it in one sitting. Coupled with the expertise of the creative team behind it, I expect this production will do it the justice it deserves.

Sion Pritchard, Gwydion Rhys (web)

REVIEW: ‘Wendy Hoose’ at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff

hoose-2
With Scottish Independence elbowing Page 3 girls and royal foetuses out of the newspapers, this steamy Scottish sex farce by Johnny McKnight seems an appropriate diversion. Birds of Paradise and Random Assembly have brought their box of tricks to the Sherman to test how Scot humour translates to the Welsh. And, in all honesty, there’s not that much of a difference.
The focus of Wendy Hoose covers two attractive, sexually frustrated 20-somethings – Laura and Jake – who decide a one night stand is in order after sexting over a hook-up app (undoubtedly Tinder). When Jake arrives, finding Laura’s door wide open, he sees the buxom lassie, ready and waiting, in bed. After some of Jake’s wince-worthy dirty talk and clumsy undressing, he begins to make his move. Once the duvet is peeled, however, he finds he’ll be getting a lot less than he bargained for. Jake decides to ring a taxi as soon as possible but a forty-five minute wait leaves him stranded. That wait turns out to be a remarkably enlightening one.
McKnight’s wildly filthy one-act breaks every taboo in sight. It is more ground-breaking though than purely destructive. The laughs come thick and fast and are made accessible to those both visually and aurally impaired. A sign language interpreter, an acerbic audio describer and some uncouth emoticons all compliment, enhance and satirise the action, despite occasionally upstaging it.
For such a bawdy, rib-tickling script, it requires a pair of actors with dazzling stage chemistry. James Young, as the brash but gawky Jake, brings us a common chauvinist crossed with a hopeless, stumbling romantic, winning the audience’s compassion as well as their uncomfortable sniggers. Amy Conachan, alluring and seductive, shows no reticence in her performance and boldly establishes that she has the upper hand when it comes to ‘getting one’s leg over’.
Two-handed plays have the tendency to be a dull affair, often merely focusing on the couple’s relationship and nothing else. However, armed with its ‘twist’, it explores themes both in and outside of the bedroom. It reveals harsh and clandestine truths on modern attitudes to body image, sexism and the difference between sex and love. Though the crass language and frank sexual content may shock some, what lies underneath is a sincere, candid portrait of our perception of others and ourselves.
Wendy Hoose is at the Sherman Theatre until 13th Sept 2014.

REVIEW: ‘Wendy Hoose’ at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff by Sam Pryce

hoose-2
With Scottish Independence elbowing Page 3 girls and royal foetuses out of the newspapers, this steamy Scottish sex farce by Johnny McKnight seems an appropriate diversion. Birds of Paradise and Random Assembly have brought their box of tricks to the Sherman to test how Scot humour translates to the Welsh. And, in all honesty, there’s not that much of a difference.
The focus of Wendy Hoose covers two attractive, sexually frustrated 20-somethings – Laura and Jake – who decide a one night stand is in order after sexting over a hook-up app (undoubtedly Tinder). When Jake arrives, finding Laura’s door wide open, he sees the buxom lassie, ready and waiting, in bed. After some of Jake’s wince-worthy dirty talk and clumsy undressing, he begins to make his move. Once the duvet is peeled, however, he finds he’ll be getting a lot less than he bargained for. Jake decides to ring a taxi as soon as possible but a forty-five minute wait leaves him stranded. That wait turns out to be a remarkably enlightening one.
McKnight’s wildly filthy one-act breaks every taboo in sight. It is more ground-breaking though than purely destructive. The laughs come thick and fast and are made accessible to those both visually and aurally impaired. A sign language interpreter, an acerbic audio describer and some uncouth emoticons all compliment, enhance and satirise the action, despite occasionally upstaging it.
For such a bawdy, rib-tickling script, it requires a pair of actors with dazzling stage chemistry. James Young, as the brash but gawky Jake, brings us a common chauvinist crossed with a hopeless, stumbling romantic, winning the audience’s compassion as well as their uncomfortable sniggers. Amy Conachan, alluring and seductive, shows no reticence in her performance and boldly establishes that she has the upper hand when it comes to ‘getting one’s leg over’.
Two-handed plays have the tendency to be a dull affair, often merely focusing on the couple’s relationship and nothing else. However, armed with its ‘twist’, it explores themes both in and outside of the bedroom. It reveals harsh and clandestine truths on modern attitudes to body image, sexism and the difference between sex and love. Though the crass language and frank sexual content may shock some, what lies underneath is a sincere, candid portrait of our perception of others and ourselves.
Wendy Hoose is at the Sherman Theatre until 13th Sept 2014.

REVIEW: ROGUE’Z Theatre – Harold Pinter’s ‘The Homecoming’

slide11

Offering up a dark alternative for this year’s Cardiff Comedy Festival, the continuously laudable performers at ROGUE’Z Theatre chose to perform Harold Pinter’s third full-length play of familial rivalry and sordid desires, The Homecoming. In this first-rate revival, the company consider the thick, underlying subtext as well as what is written so that both Pinter aficionados and complete beginners are satisfied.

Although this is more a character-driven piece, the plot can be said to be a little thicker than some of Pinter’s other plays. An all-male, virile household gets all shook up when Teddy, the estranged son, makes an impromptu return from America, now armed with a doctorate in Philosophy and a curiously detached, dangerously magnetic wife named Ruth. His family consist of Max, his cantankerous father, Sam, his mild, even effeminate uncle, and his two brothers – Joey, a dopey amateur boxer, and Lenny, a suave pimp. His arrival is treated with surprise and disdain but the men, particularly Lenny, pay more attention to Ruth, who seems uninhibited and unthreatened by their vulgar propositions. During Teddy and Ruth’s brief sojourn at the home, a power struggle ensues that digs up hatchets that should have remained buried. It culminates in Ruth becoming a new part of the family, but very differently to how she, or Teddy, imagined.

The company conveyed the painfully awkward silences as well as the geysers of viciousness between the brothers and the father. Jeff Fifer snapped and barked as the belligerent patriarch Max and his interaction with his adorably timid brother Sam (Ray Thomas) proved comically callous. Three finely diverse performances were given by the three brothers. Richard Jones carried an interesting paradox when playing Teddy – something of a bumbling, submissive fool despite being prodigiously intelligent. Darren Freebury-Jones nailed the role of the boxer Joey switching from hard and thuggish to vulnerable and naïve after his encounter with Ruth upstairs. Andreas Constantinou gave yet another commendable performance as the lewd and lecherous Lenny, experimenting vocally with volume and tone to make him slightly volatile. Regardless of being outnumbered by men, Nerys Rees as Ruth displayed dominance as well as maternal humility, since she fills the role of the absent mother as well as the sexual object. Unlike Vivien Merchant’s passive and compliant portrayal in the film version, Nerys Rees acted as though she could see straight through the masculine facades.

Pinter’s not for everyone, I understand that. One needs an acquired taste to fully appreciate his deadpan humour and the scenes of almost horrifying slander. Perhaps some moments of amplified hilarity could have left newer audiences a little less bewildered but it is that perplexity that makes Pinter and his work unlike any other.

As ROGUE’Z Theatre are acquiring a well-honed knack for dark and twisted productions, I can’t wait to see what’s up next.

Our first London correspondent for Young Critics Wales!

Hannah YC London

The Big Move to London!

Finally, the 4 years of working hard and waiting for my dream to come true is suddenly over. Since I was young I have always wanted to live in London and work in the Theatre Industry. With a BA(Hons) in Performing Arts with modules in performance and arts marketing and events management from the University of Wales, Trinity St David, I created my own city wide business, worked in arts marketing and event management on many projects, worked with countless companies and performers on a personal, professional and educational levels and taken up many opportunities to not only work in box office, front of house and administration but also running the former two in sizable teams.

A little stint in writing reviews for the Theatre Royal in Plymouth added another string to my bow. When moving to Cardiff to complete a masters in Events Management (particular interest in cultural/theatre events), I aimed to continue my experience in Theatre with front of house work in a couple of venues, working in hospitality at the Wales Millennium Centre as well as devise and create my own work, still running my business from one city to another till finally handing over and leaving my company behind for bigger and better things. My determination lead me to pick up my interest in writing reviews and a little social media contact with Young Critics Wales lead me to becoming a young critic over the last 6 months, giving me many opportunities to see fantastic performances, be part of huge events and meet some incredible people. It also gave me the kick to start my own website and blog and delve into art journalism as a whole. A meeting with many in this industry opened my eyes to the reality of how art journalism is suffering in Wales and I then felt that my passion should be spoken about, and from my own words (something I continue to strive in).

With only a dissertation left, which I am basing on theatre events in London, I am moving to the big smoke in less than two weeks. While I’m there I’m hoping to work in the industry and soon work my way up, something I feel I have the determination and drive to do to build an even more fantastic career. In such a dynamic and diverse theatrical city, I hope to continue my work as a reviewer and art journalist as a correspondent for Young Critics Wales and with my own freelance work. The excitement and buzz that theatre gives me and the opportunity to write about it has and will be nothing but a joy to do!

What is only left to say is to thank Young Critics Wales and particularly Guy O’Donnell, the project coordinator, on the fantastic opportunities this scheme has offered me and hopefully will offer more in the future. It is a shame to miss out on great Welsh theatre in our fantastic venues but to see more theatre as a whole is an opportunity that is hard to miss!

If you are a London based venue or company please get in touch with Hannah at the contacts below.

Check Hannah Goslin out at the following websites :

http://gozzers.co.uk
http://gozzers.wordpress.com
http://hgozzers.wordpress.com
https://www.linkedin.com/pub/hannah-goslin/67/263/173
Twitter – hgoslin_2

Review Bianco No Fit State Circus

No Fit State Circus perform Bianco at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. ©Richard Davenport 13

 

Photograph credit R Davenport.

Bianco’, performed by ‘No Fit State Circus’ was the last show I went to see at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I left the circus tent shaking in awe. When a performance has given you a lump in your throat that makes it hard to even cheer or clap, you know they have done well. Every section beautifully designed that was enhanced by the power of the live band.

There were no individual stars but an ensemble of talented performers, each bringing their own expertise to the stage. Even though this was a stereotypical contemporary circus show, they brought so much emotion to the way they performed that it stood out from any other circus acts. The music and the lyrics especially helped create this emotion and made mini-narratives for each section. There were moments in this show where I felt I’d left reality behind and stepped into a dream. It was aesthetically pleasing in every sense that I couldn’t believe it was happening before me. I never wanted it end. What was more interesting is that I felt like I was part of the production myself. The constant change of positions to re-arrange the performance space made it become even more immersive. Sometimes it took away from the essence of fantasy, yet it was necessary.

It was evident that every aspect of the show was well thought out and infused with professionalism. Every person so physically fit it was inspiring to watch. Overall ‘No Fit State Circus’ is heightened with pure talent, innovative imagery and a set to be admired at. Step into this tent and leave reality behind.