Category Archives: Theatre

YC Review Hide Chelsey Gillard



Created by Deborah Light , Chapter Arts Centre, Studio , February 23, 2013

When confronted by a naked, giggling woman as you walk into the theatre you know the show you are about to see is either going to be attention-seeking or daring. Deborah Light’s innovative first full length piece of course fell into the latter category – original and thought provoking.With a cast of world-renowned female performers HIDE showed how much is possible in a stripped back space. With just their bodies and a few mobile studio lights these women explored the boundaries between our public and private lives – as the programme asks, ‘are they showing themselves? Or is this a show?’

Wonderfully timid Jo Fong physicalised the constant battle between a performer and their onstage psyche, telling us ‘this is a show’ whilst performing conflicted choreography that showed a performers struggle with nerves more than words could ever convey.

Rosalind Haf Brooks on the other hand strived to make a connection with her fellow performers, even resorting to sniffing their clothes just to make contact. By turns equally humorous and touching in her pursuit for human interaction.

Most of the text based content came from the beautifully androgynous Eddie Ladd who chronicled the stages of her life by describing what length her hair was at any given time. She revealed that she has not always been Eddie, but as a performer she needed to change her name to avoid having the same name as another.

Each of the women contributed something new to the mix, each dancing in their own unique way and each bringing a different set of emotions to the performance. The fractured nature of the piece allowed them to disappear and reappear, transform and dissolve exploring the multiple layers of human nature.

The lines between performance and life were completely blurred – what was a performance and what was truth didn’t seem to matter as the piece delved further into what’s underneath the surface of our external facades.
Exciting and engaging, this is the kind of work that will encourage discussion and linger in your mind long after the event.

Chelsey is a member of the Young Critics Scheme for further information contact

Happy 30th Birthday to Disability Arts Cymru!


Last night saw a celebratory evening for Disability Arts Cymru as they reached their 30th Birthday.


The evening launched the company’s new website and also featured performances by the Unusual Stage School and the musician Dai Sharkey.


Held at Chapter Arts Centre, the evening began with the performance of ‘Remote Exit’, a play by Welsh writer Meredydd Barker. The Unusual Stage School was developed in 2006, when 12 disabled actors undertook a residential training course. Since its beginning, the USS has provided unique acting opportunities for talented disabled actors throughout Wales. With a small cast of six, the play explores themes of illness and dependency within the confines of the family unit. Despite having serious undertones, the script was punctuated by natural, often dialectical humour, with plenty of opportunities to insert comical scenes.


The cast (Kate Hampton, Andria Doherty, Richard Newnham, Laura Morgan, Lindsay Foster, Michael Karampelis) were a strong ensemble, especially when specific actors needed to slip in and out of multiple roles. There was good use of a split scene, and the simple set proved helpful for swift scene changes.


The accessibility of the piece was extremely impressive; in many ways, it was more accessible than any other kind of theatre. There was use of a sign language interpreter along with a captioning screen. The whole performance was well produced and directed.


Disability Arts Cymru’s new website looks great, and you can find it here.


Happy Birthday to the company!


YC Review Sexual Perversity in Chicago Chelsey Gillard


Sexual Perversity in Chicago

Living Pictures in association with Cegin Productions , Sherman Cymru, Cardiff , February 13, 2013

Any men discussing their latest conquests are bound to exaggerate just a little, but middle-aged womanizer, Bernie’s story is so farfetched it has to be true! Robert Bowman (who also directed) revels in the delightfully dirty language of this aging Lothario and is certainly the driving force behind the breakneck speed of the production.

Made up of thirty short scenes the action takes a whistle-stop tour of the singles scene in 1970s Chicago. The wonderfully understated set design by Jacob Hughes plays in the round, with brave members of the audience sat right next to the actors and the others looking down from the balcony. A set of filing cabinets serve a multitude of functions – bar stools, tables and from their drawers are revealed all the props required.

Younger co-worker Danny (Ioannis Sholto) looks up to misogynist Bernie so much we already know any romantic attempts will fail. Yet he is soon moving in with Deborah (Lizzie Rogan), an independent and optimistic illustrator. Without much time to blink she is moving out again, going back to acid-tounged, school teacher Joan.

Although the plot focuses on the brief romance of Danny and Deborah it is the older characters that have most impact. Joan and Bernie are both bitter about the opposite sex and are not afraid to be verbal about it. Quite why they are so damaged is never revealed but both steal the show with their sordid tales or schoolroom mishaps.

The story ends pretty much back where it started, with two single men ogling ladies. Although a very clever dramatic and comedic device it leaves very little room for any character development. Combine this with the fact that none of the characters are particularly likeable and it leaves you feeling a bit cold – struggling to feel any empathy for these four sad singletons.

Having said that the laughs come thick and fast, Mamhet’s dark comedy gives a hilarious snap-shot of the times. At its premier it was surely shocking and groundbreaking; nowadays you have to do more than say the C-word to get a reaction out of most. Perhaps the shock factor has been toned down but men and women never really change, the attitudes shown by these dysfunctional daters are just as common in 2013 as in 1970.

Definitely worth seeing for the vibrant strength of the cast, the 70s disco tunes and Danny’s handle-bar moustache.
An enjoyable and entertaining evening, that will certainly have you laughing if nothing else.

For more info:

Meet the Young Critics !

With the TCWA coming up we thought now would be a good opportunity to add some information on this site on our Young Critics who form part of the panel for the TCWA.

The Scheme is open for young people from 5-25 and is free.

Rachel Morgan

Morgan YC headshot



Ar hyn o bryd dwi’n astudio ar gyfer MPhil yn yr Adran Gymraeg yn Aberystwyth, ond dwi’n dod o Aberdâr yn wreiddiol. Dwi newydd ymuno â’r Beirniad Ifainc ac wrth fy modd yn adolygu digwyddiadau llenyddol, cerddorol a’r theatr yng Nghymru.

I’m from Aberdare but currently studying for an Mphil in the Welsh department in Aberystwyth. I’ve recently joined Young Critics and enjoy reviewing literature, music and theatre events in Wales.


Sarah Finch

sarah finch

I am currently studying my first year of a degree for Theatre And Drama at Glamorgan University.
My eventual goal is to become a theatre/performance critic enabling me to write for magazines and websites.
You’ll always find me with a notepad and pen while attending productions at Chapter, WMC, The New Theatre and other localised events.
I enjoy writing about others’ work and I find it encourages and influences my methods when I take to the stage to deliver a performance

Harriet Hopkins

Harriet photo

I run a not-for-profit Writing Group, ‘Scribblers’ – we meet once a month to share all types of writing, give and gain feedback, and generally have a jolly nice time 🙂

I LOVE editing others’ writing, and am always open to submissions from budding screen or prose writers.

I’ve completed a BA(hons) in Creative Writing with Film Studies, and an MA in Creative and Critical Writing, which have given me the ability to critique creative work, as well as create it.

Most recently, I’ve been working behind the scenes on short and feature and films, which we hope will premiere in 2013.

TCWA Admin Officer.

Elin Williams

photo-Elin Williams

  • English Literature graduate of Cardiff University.
  • Love writing, directing and producing my own theatre.
  • Young critic, reviewing in English and Welsh, writing for a personal blog and Wales Arts Review
  • Theatre marketing assistant at a local theatre in the valleys

Rachel Williams


Stage Editor, Buzz | Young Critc | Part Time Civil Servant (to feed my theatrical and literary habits 😉 )

I have completed a BA in Media and Modern Literature and an MA Creative and Media writing.

Currently the Stage Editor for Buzz Magazine and juggling a job to pay the bills.

Always on the look out for new shows or new idea’s, let me know!

Fern Coslett


I am currently an A Level student at Stanwell School in the Vale of Glamorgan. I study media along with psychology and Product design. I hope to be going on to study media communications this September. I have my own personal blog in which I write about my favourite artists or songs in the music Industry. I enjoy deconstructing and analysing media texts; and being a part of young critics has allowed me to pursue this further. .
Bethan James

Bethan pic 2 for biog

“Bethan is a writer and Young Critic currently focusing on scriptwriting projects. She works in the marketing team at a theatre.

Bethan is interested in theatre that incorporates innovative, participatory, and multi-media elements.”

Chelsey Gillard

biog image chelsey gillard


Chelsey has been part of the Young Critic’s Scheme since it began in 2010 and is currently studying English and Drama at Cardiff Metropolitan University . She is one of the founding members of Hinge Productions – the university’s drama society and is directing their current production.

As well as writing for the Young Critics Chelsey also regularly contributes to Buzz Magazine and Wales Arts Review. She is passionate about all aspects of theatre and really enjoys innovative and original work, especially physical or circus theatre.

After her degree she hopes to pursue a career in theatre either in a practical sense or as an arts journalist.


Theatre Critics of Wales Awards,Sherman Cymru, Jan 26th


The Young Critics are very proud to be helping support the Theatre Critics of Wales Awards.

For anyone who didn’t see the nomination shortlist for the inaugural Theatre Critics of Wales Awards in yesterdays Western Mail, the nominations are as follows:

*Please note an adjustment due to an error in the ‘Best Production in the English’ Language category.


Best production in the Welsh language:

Mae Bilin Bwrw’r Bronco – Theatr na n’Og/Wales Millennium Centre

Y Storm – Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru

Llwyth – Sherman Cymru/Theatr Genedaethol Cymru

Llanast! – Theatr Bara Caws

Sgint – Sherman Cymru/Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru in association with Galeri, Caernarfon


Best male performance in the Welsh language:

Danny Grehan – Llwyth (Sherman Cymru/Theatr Genedaethol Cymru)

Sion Ifan – Mae Bilin Bwrw’r Bronco

Llion Williams – Y Storm (Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru)

Simon Watts – Llwyth

Joshua Price – Llwyth


Best female performance in the Welsh language:

Rebecca Harries – Llanast! (Theatr Bara Caws)

Mofudd Hughes – Sgint (Sherman Cymru/Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru in association with Galeri, Caernarfon)

Lisa Marged – Y Storm (Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru)

Manon Wilkinson – Sgint

Sara Harris-Davies – Sgint


Best production in the English language:

Before It Rains – Sherman Cymru/Bristol Old Vic

The Radicalisation Of Bradley Manning – National Theatre Wales

Last Christmas – Dirty Protest/Clwyd Theatr Cymru

The Wizard, The Goat and The Man Who Won The War – Taliesin Arts Centre

Coriolan/us – National Theatre Wales


Best male performance in the English language:

Craig Gazey – Before It Rains (Sherman Cymru/Bristol Old Vic)

Richard Elfyn – The Wizard, The Goat And The Man Who Won The War (Taliesin Arts Centre)

David O’Toole – In Water I’m Weightless (National Theatre Wales)

Richard Lynch – Coriolan/us (National Theatre Wales)

Simon Nehan – Bruised (Clwyd Theatr Cymru)


Best female performance in the English language:

Sharon Morgan – The Utah Bride (1.618 Theatre)

Lisa Palfrey – Before It Rains (Sherman Cymru/Bristol Old Vic)

Helen Griffin – Who’s Afraid Of Rachel Roberts? (Torch Theatre)

Mari Phillips – A Clockwork Orange (Volcano)

Teifi Emerald – Wild


Best ensemble:

The Radicalisation Of Bradley Manning – National Theatre Wales

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Mappa Mundi/Torch Theatre/Theatr Mwldan

Coriolan/us – National Theatre Wales

Llwyth – Sherman Cymru/Theatr Genedlaethol

Little Dogs (National Theatre Wales)


Best director:

Terry Hands – As You Like It (Clwyd Theatr Cymru)

Mike Pearson/Mike Brookes – Coriolan/us (National Theatre Wales)

Arwel Gruffydd – Llwyth (Sherman Cymru/Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru)

John McGrath – The Radicalisation Of Bradley Manning (National Theatre Wales)

Erica Eirian – The Maids (Theatr Pena)


Best design:

Paul Clay – In Water I’m Weightless National Theatre Wales)

Mike Brookes/Simon Banham – Coriolan/us (National Theatre Wales)

Tim Dickel – Little Dogs (National Theatre Wales)

Mark Bailey – God Of Carnage (Clwyd Theatr Cymru)

Tom Rogers – Llwyth (Sherman Cymru/Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru)


Best music and sound:

Simon Thorne – Clytemnestra (Sherman Cymru)

John Hardy/Mike Beer – Coriolan/us (National Theatre Wales)

Stitching (Company Of Sirens)

Simon Thorne – A Clockwork Orange (Volcano)

James Clarke – Llwyth (Sherman Cymru/Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru)


Best use of digital/online content:

Branches – National Theatre Wales

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Mappa Mundi/Torch Theatre/Theatr Mwldan

The Radicalisation Of Bradley Manning – National Theatre Wales

Coriolan/us – National Theatre Wales

In Water I’m Weightless – National Theatre Wales


Best production for children/young people:

Sexting – Arad Goch

Mae Bilin Bwrw’r Bronco – Theatr na n’Og/Wales Millennium Centre

Yesterday – Clwyd Theatr Cymru

Click – Mess Up The Mess

Grimm Tales – Theatr Iolo



Best dance production:

The Grammar Of Silence – National Dance Company Wales

The Tempest – Ballet Cymru

Gaza Blaenannerch – De Oscuro/Wales Millennium Centre

Dream National Dance Company Wales

Tir – Ballet Cymru/Cerys Matthews


The Writer’s Guild playwright award:

Tim Price – The Radicalisation Of Bradley Manning (National Theatre Wales)

Matthew Trevannion – Bruised (Clwyd Theatr Cymru)

D J Britton – The Wizard, The Goat And The Man Who Won The War (Taliesin Arts Centre)

Dafydd James – Llwyth (Sherman Cymru/Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru)

Katherine Chandler – Before It Rains (Sherman Cymru/Bristol Old Vic)


Young critics award:

Re Live – Abandoned Brothers

Incubator – Wales Millennium Centre

Cwtch Cabaret – Pontardawe Arts Centre/Citrus Arts

My Life In CIA – Give It A Name Theatre Company

A Clockwork Orange – Volcano


Best opera production:

Don Giovanni – Welsh National Opera

In The Locked Room/Ghost Patrol – Scottish Opera/Music Theatre Wales

La boheme – Welsh National Opera

Macbeth – OpraCOR Cymru

La traviata – Welsh National Opera



Best male opera singer:

David Kempster – Don Giovanni (Welsh National Opera)

Gary Griffiths – La boheme (Welsh National Opera)

Philip Joll – Tristan And Isolde (Welsh National Opera)

Jason Howard – La traviata (Welsh National Opera)

Phil Gault – Macbeth (OpraCOR Cymru)


Best female opera singer:

Rebecca Evans – The Marriage Of Figaro (Welsh National Opera)

Fflur Wyn – Jephtha (Welsh National Opera)

Camilla Roberts – Cosi Fan Tutte (Welsh National Opera)

Eldrydd Cynan – Macbeth (OpraCOR Cymru)

Catrin Aur – Don Giovanni (Mid Wales Opera)

Shortlisting Process

A selection of Wales theater critics met at Media Wales last week to begin the short listing process for the TCWA’s 12 which will be held at Sherman Cymru on Saturday 26th January, 2013. The shortlisted nominees in each category will be announced mid December 2012.

We have aspired to truly reflect the range of work created this year and have endeavored to see as much work as possible, critics on the panel include,

Lowri Haf Cooke

Victor Hallet

Michael Kelligan

Dylan Moore

Jenny Longhurst

Karen Price

Gary Raymond

Mike Smith

Othniel Smith

Adam Somerset

Elin Williams

Rachel Williams

Nigel Jarret

Chelsey Gillard

Bethan James

First Theatre Critics of Wales Awards

I am delighted to announce the first ever Theatre Critics of Wales Awards, which will be held at Sherman Cymru on Saturday 26th January, 2013.

Organised by the Young Critics Scheme based in Bridgend, the TCWAs will celebrate the successes of theatre in Wales each year, as voted for by the critics.

The shortlisted nominees in each category will be announced early December 2012, and we will update everyone regularly through an NTW Group (watch this space…) and our active Twitter account, as run by the Young Critics themselves!

This is a very exciting opportunity for Wales to celebrate the fantastic and dynamic work being produced by its theatre companies year in, year out.

Don’t miss out on the action!

Follow us @Young_Critics

The TCWAs are supported by… 

Review of the Utah Bride, By YC Fern Coslett.



Set in the heart of the Welsh Valleys in the early 1990s the Utah Bride is a production written by Carmen Medway-Stephens and produced by 1.168 Theater Company. The production focuses on the turbulent relationship between a mother  and a daughter named Alice, throughout the play family is explored to create a thought-provoking narrative.

16 year old Alice is back from Utah after escaping the valleys four years previously to live the American dream with her Mormon missionary, her mother questions her motives for returning which I thought added stimulating anxiety.

The show starts and ends with a classic artist and a beautiful song by Dolly Parton, “Little Sparrow”. Its relevance to the play is blurred; I would have expected a Welsh soundtrack that would have established the setting of the production and would have made it feel more authentic.

The bright lights focused on the living room which established the setting for characters, I felt that the characters in the play were not sufficiently developed enough and were hard to connect and sympathize with. They were also over stereotypicalised as moments that touched upon their Welsh culture were much exaggerated such as the entire Welsh neighbourhood coming around to watch the birth of Alice in the back window of the house.I don’t think the narrative of the play was incredibly exciting as it did not  take the audience on a climatic journey this could be due to it focusing too much on the relationship between mother and child.

However, for an hour and 30 minutes the play is intriguing and I was interested in the world created, I felt this was down to the brilliant and emotional acting of Sharon Morgan and Sara Lloyd-Gregory. When the actors were taking their bows you could see that they were both still emotional from the scenes, and it shows how deeply they entered their roles.

One very positive aspects of the show that I highly enjoyed was how the audience took on a voyeuristic stance; you felt intrigued to be watching a very personal moment between a mother and daughter.

The Utah Bride written by Carmen Medway Stephens produced by 1.168 Theater Company.

At Chapter Arts Center, Cardiff Fri the 16th and 17th December.

Last Christmas**** – Young Critics Review



Last Christmas ****

Dirty Protest
Written by Matthew Bulgo
Starring Sion Pritchard
Directed by Kate Wasserberg
For a lot of people, Christmas is more bitter than sweet, with loved ones who are no longer around missed more amid the happy chaos of the usual celebrations. It’s a time we build ourselves up so much to enjoy that, often, it’s a disappointment when it finally comes around (especially the staff Christmas do). And a time when, custom tells us, we should be with all our loved ones, but where distance and circumstance often pull us away from those we want to be with.

Matthew Bulgo’s one-man play explores the hard hitting realities of life that we like to pretend won’t happen; the ones we ignore hoping they’ll go away and, against a Christmas backdrop, the pain and tension of this exploration intensifies. Despite the occasional cliche, Bulgo’s debut is well written with great belly jiggling, guffaw inducing rants book-ending beautiful, stark, emotional moments that are thoroughly engaging, keeping the audience going and enjoying through each rise and fall. The language is striking too, both in its realism and its imagery; the descriptions of moments through camera angles encourage the audience to imagine it this way, just as the main character does, whilst adding to his slightly geeky (but mostly ‘average Joe’) persona.

Sion Pritchard’s delivery is, quite frankly, stunning. He is so deeply immersed in the character’s tight but loosening grip of emotions that it would be hard now to imagine anyone else in the role. The words sound like speech more than monologue, and his comic timing is spot on. He manages the harder moments with skill and a slowness that give credit to director, Kate Wasserberg who has clearly grasped the grief and anger and confusion of the character and moulded it into something manageable and interesting. His use of voice, of accents is impressive and add to the enjoyment and dynamics of each ‘scene’ as he describes it, from the prissy bitch at work to the beer chuggers back home in Swansea; his delivery allows the audience to feel and live the tension themselves.

A simplistic set, with the occasional, accidental twinkling snowflake reminding us of the time of year, lets us focus on him alone, and this is just what the play needs. Time and space to breathe and live.

One-man plays can fill you with trepidation; let this one fill you with the love, sadness and the sweet melancholy of Christmas.

Last Christmas is at Sherman Cymru, Theatre 2 December 13th-15th, 7.30pm
Tickets: £12 – Sherman Box Office 029 2064 6900

Cracked – Young Critics Review



Cracked ****

Dance House NDC Wales (in association with Cardiff Contemporary)

Created by Roy Campbell-Moore and Sue Williams

All good contemporary art is open to interpretation. Roy Campbell-Moore and Sue Williams’s collaboration, Cracked is no exception, posing a number of questions about the manifestation of sexuality and the relationship between man and woman.

Set to Tchaikovsky’s score from The NutcrackerCracked is a rebellion of the ‘fairy tale’. Instead, it explores the realities of relationships. The emotions and sexual tensions that we experience when starting a relationship, and the constant struggle for control.

We meet SHE as she dresses for a night out – picking clothes that accentuate her femininity and sexuality, a private moment adding her make up (which would have been a little more engaging with a larger mirror that reflected the mood and movement of the ritual), and then a full length check in the glass; a short dance that tests her outfit for suitability and sensuality, the tutu harking back to tradition and suggesting that, somewhere beneath the made-up exterior, every woman wants to be the fairy princess.

HE presents himself to us ready dressed, “effortless” in preparation for his evening. He responds to his own music with aggression and assurance; he WILL have a good night, and he WILL take what he wants from it. Though, beneath this demeanour of certainty and arrogance, there is a sense that it’s all a show.

In their meeting, there is a hesitance as they sit apart, not acknowledging the existence of the other until her small gesture of openness, willingness spurs him on, and he is suddenly all over her, falling (drunkenly) at her feet – using the most unromantic gestures to win her over. Their flirting and foreplay is a mix of desire and repulsion, though his main focus is the desire to have her, whether it is her will or not. The moment she feels sure of herself – confident enough to open herself up and give him a sense of her sexual self, he falls upon her, re-exurting his power and physical strength over hers.

A solo performance from SHE is re-empowering; she both embraces and rejects the traditional image of ‘woman’, and conveys her independence and the joy she feels in that.

The final scene between them is complex in theme if simple in design; a rope attached to the ceiling is incorporated into the dance. They each take turns manipulating the rope, though HE seems to hold it more often than SHE and is quickly frustrated and uncomfortable when it is wrapped around him, symbolising the male’s need to be in control, so that he can walk away at any time which, of course, he does, just when they have made a close and intimate connection.

Her final moment, alone is ambiguous. Is she happier this way, or is she devastated to have lost him? What’s wonderful aboutCracked is that the answer is different for everyone.

The use of the traditional, classical music that ordinarily evokes images of flowing white tutus and charming toy soldiers juxtaposes the harsher reality that is portrayed in Cracked, increasing the level of poignancy of each movement, each moment between the two dancers. And that reality is that there is no Prince Charming and, if there is, you might well be better off without him…