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BSL review ‘The Good Earth’ Motherlode Theatre Company by Stuart Parkinson

This is a BSL review of The Good Earth by Motherlode Theatre Company performed at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff. A written transcription is available below the video.

It was interesting recently I saw a play named ‘The Good Earth’

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An interpreter was provided called Julie Doyle. She was fantastic. The story was emotional. It was emotional though seeing change. Various people moving away. The spirit of the community was changing.

I became to understand  Valleys and appreciate community. Change is not nice as when people do not people move away the spirit of the community changes

It was interesting to see the actors use chairs and tablets to show destruction

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The Interpreter’s role did shift which is important to see and identify which character was talking.

At the end of the play I reflected it must be nice to live in a close knit community in the valley.

If you haven’t seen the play please do watch it.

Thank you

http://motherlodetheatre.com/thegoodearth/#thegoodearth/about

Review, Steel Magnolias, The Hope Theatre by Hannah Goslin

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Steel Magnolias is a well known 80’s film with Julia Roberts – an almost cult film it could be suggested.

So it is perhaps unforgivable that myself and my friend have never seen it. I wonder whether the tears my mother sheds after each viewing was a slight put off to watching it. I don’t think I ever wanted to know the sadness.

In a very 80’s style hairdressers in a transverse set up, the styling, the costumes, the hair is all shining Pretty Woman, The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles.

The storyline is a great combination of fun, comical, relatable and sad.  It would seem that not much happens – 5 women run through the year, trading stories, make up tips, tales of men…one may say it is all slightly un-feminist and stereotyped. But it’s all true – it’s all what small town women would talk about and what they would do.

We are drawn into their story very easily. It holds us and at times I wondered how such simple yet witty writing is keeping me from getting distracted. Of course the combination of comedy and reality hooks us but it’s only instilled this way by the wonderful and natural performances of each actor.

Steel Magnolias has you hooked and always crying, whether this is from laughing or because it has touched your heart.

Review, Stars and Strippers, The Folly Mixtures, London Wonderground, By Hannah Goslin

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

The Folly Mixtures are a cabaret and burlesque troupe that are well known for their consistent and smooth performances using modern, remixed music, fire play and dirty comedy.

Tonight was of no exception. Listening to our compere between sections, the theme of America is picked upon satirically, with comparisons to us as Brits and our stereotypes. This is clever, at times improvised and makes us laugh at the irony of our own situation as well as the stereotypes of America.

With the performance, the different routines also pick upon stereotypes of America – the old 1950’s diner girls, baseball to even a poke at Donald Trump and the current election campaigns. We love all of these – bedazzled and glittered, the stereotypes are nothing but fun and gorgeous, high end and professional.

We are also introduced to our only male burlesque performer – Dave the Bear. While like the women, he is there to perform routines and for us to appreciate the human form, he is flirtatious with the male audience members, crude with his jokes but all of this is brilliant and comical.

My only issue with this performance is that Burlesque is known for its celebration of all body types – these woman have wonderful bodies, almost envious but very similar and lacking celebration of all women. I also find that the group performances get a little samey when solo performances would have been welcomed to showcase each performer and perhaps a little more comedy in these routines would have created a different dynamic.

Overall, the Folly Mixtures were beautiful, glamourous and skilled. A great night out none the less.

http://www.thefollymixtures.co.uk

 

Romeo And Juliet Everyman Theatre Cardiff

Romeo and Juliet, Everyman Open Air Theatre, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff,
Author: William Shakespeare
Directors: Mark Modzelwski and Jack Paterson
Cast: Mickey Howe, Helen Randall, Jon Barnes, Aisha Cecil, James Pritchard
Running Time – 2 hours

 Photos courtesy of Keith Stanbury

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet couldn’t be a more polarizing play – that controversy, and of course it’s impenetrable brand, the reason for its longevity, despite the criticisms it’s been subject to throughout the ages. It also means every adaptation, no matter how well done or brightly framed, will have a clear divide between its fans and its skeptics, much like its own warring houses.

It immediately reminded me of Everyman’s 2014 production The Taming of the Shrew, which also played with a modern framing. In that case, it seemed disjointed and unconnected, this play’s firmer stance something I was glad of. An early warning sign was the wrapping of garish warning tape around the gorgeous set, itself an understated stage that easily turned from crumbled history to a modern ruin in the mind’s eye. Any foreshadowing in the archetypal tragedy seems dangerously close to being too loud for too little reason. Then, I turned thoughts to Last year’s As You Like it set completely within its time, which seemed less frantic to be thoughtful, its simplicity its making.

The scuffle between the houses was presented in a haze of echoed dialogue, each line chanted rather than spoken, chaotic drumming and West Side snapping fueling the anger. It was no doubt intended as a display of raw energy, but mine surely weren’t the only ears strained by a jarring start. A question common to the staging was that of cleverness or (with all such words improperly conveying the fact every polarizing part was played with conviction of delivery) clumsiness. Aggression dominating over clarity and a sense of unease are fitting for the play, but it felt a little rushed, easy to think about but harder to feel for – the presentation of the raw feeling ironically calculated.

Another of these dichotomies was the fact that Paris is shown sauntering through the warring families, often an agent of the discord the one to bang the makeshift drum of the stage – this could give the often slight role adaptations afford him gravitas, but there is too little of him otherwise to give weight to the staging.

Whilst experimentation is always welcome, the elements seemed jarring and improperly integrated, a few, small things that, in never fully being justified spoiled the flow. Costuming was fine, but slightly awkward with our leads, owing a tad too much to Danny and Sandy. The thing that dominated over everything, making niggles more off-putting, was that the overall transference to the modern day seemed slightly arbitrary – a live performance in the beautiful Sofia Gardens is certainly not the slickly edited City from Luhrmann’s fondly remembered film, and whilst it could be left to interpretation in another play, the fraught world of our times providing myriad examples of arbitrary, baseless conflict, the other small jarring features meant either that these less important things should have had some justification, or that this time leap needed more obvious suggestion.

The acting was certainly the best element.

Mikey Howe presented himself as a likable actor, but not as a Romeo stripped of the blandness which pervades even the best of his adaptations. He more often solicited motherly feelings of exhausted affection and useless foresight rather than showing us a passion we might forgive naivety more for. Mercutio was played memorably by Jon Barnes, remembered fondly from last year, the acidic chemistry between him and Asha Cecil’s flint like Tybalt alluding to something more complex and engaging than the titular love. Helen Randall’s Juliet was stunning, and did her best to convert us to her convictions with not just a sweet, but quietly intelligent and witty character, her superb delivery highlighting the odd dichotomy that one of Shakespeare’s most characters most scolded for their lack of better judgement has some such clever lines, full of wordplay and conviction. Another highlight was James Pritchard’s warm and fatherly Friar – although the general depiction of such is always odd, considering despite his gentle ways, he is the piece’s accidental murderer.

The anger was the most visceral, best felt emotion of the play, each character, Tybalt to the Montagues doing their best under rage, although such venom by the ensemble made Romeo’s anger seem a little paler than the devastation of the second act required.

Said second act was free from trips over the awkward trappings of the first allowing for a much smoother experience, beautifully and purposefully lit, each actor at their finest in this hour.

A fun, but at later thought somewhat frustrating decision was that to possess the apothecary by the devil – gleefully sadistic at first glance, and a synchronization of the ensemble used to much more coordinated and singular effect, you then realized how much trouble it presented. Shakespeare, here to Lear to his famous sonnets, was always interested in the conflict between the power of the damnation of God (and the Gods) and man, and how the devil is a part of both self-corrupting man and the omnipotent Lord who shows such little benevolence in his works.

This is the essence of the general trouble – that the productions experiments just don’t have a solid enough foundation to be felt more than gimmicky, when the more general elements are is all wonderfully done. Ironically, and somewhat sadly, when focused more on style than the unsure statements there was much more substance. In short, it’s a commendable performance with a lot to chew on regardless of whether you enjoyed such elements, but I’m afraid it may be looked with kinder eyes by those who love the lovers, and not those skeptical of the star crossed.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

ENDS

Review, Flossy and Boo’s Curious Cabaret, Chapter Arts Centre, by Hannah Goslin

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Bright pink and green wigs, ukuleles and a whole heap of fun. Coming to Chapter Arts Centre to see these two curious sisters in creativey was excitingly anticipated by me. I have heard so many wonderful things but never had the chance to grab a chance to see them.

Flossy and Boo as would seem by any images you see of them are eccentric, comedic and warm and friendly. Being welcomed one by one by each of them to the performance, it felt more of a personal gathering than of watching a performance piece.

Flossy and Boo had planned items but also random segments chosen by the audience in the form of picking items from a hat. This was full of anticipation to see the reaction of the performers and what material they brought into the mix.  To be able to chop and change and bring a new show each time is a triumph and very clear of some talented theatre practitioners.

Their ability to change the scenario at last minute, combat sound issues and prop interruption was done seamlessly, with us enjoying how ‘natural’ they were with us. We were never quite sure if they were being their characters or their usual persona- which of course is brilliant to be able to achieve.

Flossy and Boo’s Curious Cabaret is side splittingly hilarious, extremely intelligent and masterful in its execution. Heading to Edinburgh, I urge you to see them. They’re ones not to miss!

Verdi’s Requiem, by Matthew Salisbury

VERDI’s REQUIEM

ST DAVID’s HALL CARDIFF 

The conductor, Owain Arwel Hughes’s gesture at the beginning, dedicating the performance of this requiem to those who had died in the Nice atrocity was well received by the audience. It was a fitting and gentle reminder about what a requiem is about.

There is no doubting that this performance of Verdi’s Requiem ticked all the boxes for magnificence and grandeur. The orchestra of Welsh National Opera, the Cardiff Polyphonic Choir, Cardiff Ardwyn Singers and the Llandaff Cathedral Choral Society, superbly conducted by Owain Arwel Hughes, performed with immense energy and gusto.

There was no doubting too that the soloists, soprano Rebecca Evans, bass Jason Howard and the tenor who replaced Dennis O’Neill, were resplendent in their roles, with contralto Kate Woolveridge out doing the others in the expression of the majesty of the music.

Kate, when she is rehearsing the Forget Me Not Choir, is forever telling its members to show the meaning of the words in their expressions. She led the way in this performance, seeming to put that little bit extra into her singing.

Comparisons one imagines are odious, but it was interesting to listen to Faure’s Requiem, performed by Kings College Choir in the Albert Hall the following day. In St David’s Hall the choir and orchestra often drowned the soloists. Also it was difficult to follow. The Kyrie and Agnus Dei were identifiable, but the succession of ‘’ operatic overtures’’ were not requiem like, full of grandeur though they were. Faure’s Requiem is more my idea of a requiem, with more of a religious character. Verdi interspersed magnificence with some gentle passages, and this did in some way convey the sense of launching somebody across the Styx.

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4 stars

Event:              The Welsh Proms – Verdi’s Requiem

At:                    St. David’s Hall, Cardiff

Seen:               8pm, 16th July, 2016

Reviewer:     Matthew Salisbury for 3rd Act Critics

Running:          16th July, 2016

Links:              http://www.welshproms.com/verdi-requiem.html

Orchestra:  Welsh National Opera Orchestra

Chorus:       Welsh Proms Cymru Festival Chorus
Cardiff Ardwyn Singers
Cardiff Polyphonic Choir
Llandaff Cathedral Choral Society

Soprano:    Rebecca Evans

Mezzo-soprano:   Kate Woolveridge,

Tenor:            Robyn Lyn
Bass:               Jason Howard

Conductor: Owain Arwel Hughes CBE

 

 

Lucky Trimmer: Made in Wales! by Helen Joy

3f390b2aae         #luckytrimmer Does Wales! 

As always, a warm welcome to all of us from the National Dance Company Wales as we pile into their building.

A welcome compounded by a delightful duet of introduction from the Lucky Trimmer co-ordinators & we all settle into our seats to watch & wait, excited & curious.

So, piece by piece here we go:

How Should I Explain

Dark stage, thick music, a bright light character in green & white confronts us & we are off to a great start. Dachauer’s punchy performance to the familiar & comforting Viennese Waltz is athletic, energetic & when she smiles broadly at us, as welcoming as our hosts. I do not know the story she is telling perhaps as well as I should but enough to follow, enjoy & find amusement here & there. The relishing of the power of her body controlled through dance is palpable.

Grandmother

Foscarini is incredible to watch. I don’t notice the music. I don’t notice the audience around me or my friend beside me. She is mesmeric. Hard, blunt physicality spot-lit; flashes of memory in dance. When the lights go out, I hear her patter across the stage & we hold our communal breath waiting for illumination. It is beautiful & crippling.

Moments – Performatives Spazieren

Well. Clever clever stuff, Taguchi. A floor unpicks itself in an empty room. Its wooden planking parades around Berlin to music, making music & cutting its own path as is dances through streets & parks & people. It is very funny but we do not laugh much as the inanimate lives & breathes & becomes a floor once more. I am reminded of the first time I saw a pianola. It feels strangely out of place yet perfectly placed.

El Pie (The Foot)

And more on the theme of morphe & matter, resurrection, the bringing of life.

Her body falls in front of us & Marote lies dead to us. One foot revives quickly & playfully, angrily, sadly, cleverly cajoles & bullies its owner back to life. Macabre, hilarious, kind & tear-jerking, this dance plays with us. I think on horror stories of hands having lives of their own, of puppetry, of people painting with their feet & toes holding brushes as well as any fingers. Of electricity forcing body hearts to beat, of the lust in the living to will the dead to live. And the utter joy when breath is taken & the lights come on. I love it.

Floating Flowers

Tsai & Chen – one flower, two dancers; two dancers, two flowers; two flowers, one dancer… pretty, quirky, surreal & complicated, this homage to beliefs & traditions I can easily believe will send away bad luck & bring happiness – how could something so delightful, not?

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Lefeuvre is less stripped than the others, faintly lumberjacky, plaid & chappy, clutching his lump of wood. This doesn’t feel like a dance. It feels like a séance, a spirit creeping out of the log & into his arm & into his senses. It is hard stuff. Difficult to watch. A take-over, a trick, a phantasmagoric illusion. I like this least but am sure I will remember it the longest.

Bernadette

I’ve seen this before, recently obviously. I loved it then & I loved it still. Expectation made it a little quicker, less comical & more tragic. She was longer lying on that table this time I thought, a little sadder. Does that say more of me than Bernadette?

Finn is a confident performer, a cool dancer as much at home with her apple pie as with her cold chicken, a story-teller & a mimic, a giver of life.

4 Stars

 

Event:              Lucky Trimmer Does Wales!

National Dance Company Wales

 

Seen:               7.30pm, 16th July, 2016

Reviewer:        Helen Joy for 3rd Act Critics

Running:          16th July, 2016

Cost :                 £10 / ticket

 

Links:               www.luckytrimmer.com

www.ndcwales.co.uk

 

 

Young Critics on the Edge, ASSITEJ 2016

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Last week some of our members took part in Young Critics on the Edge. Please find further information on the project below as well as a link to their reviews.

What is Young Critics On The Edge?

Young Critics On The Edge is a 5 day-long programme to develop critical analysis skills in young people aged 18–25 as part of On The Edge The World Festival of Theatre For Young Audiences.

Young Critics On The Edge is a collaboration between Barnstorm Theatre Company, NAYD (National Association for Youth Drama) Ireland and Mess Up The Mess, Young Critic’s Wales in conjunction with the Symposium strand of the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering for 2016.

ON THE EDGE is presented by TYA-UK and TYA-Ireland. It is the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering 2016. ON THE EDGE is hosted by Birmingham REP.

Young Critics On The Edge is open to young people aged 18-25 who are interested in watching theatre, discovering how and why theatre is made, and learning how to critically discuss, analyse, and review Theatre For Young Audiences

Over a five-day period they will see some incredible shows, make new friends and learn about the art of theatre criticism. All this happens during On The Edge The World Festival of Theatre For Young Audiences in Birmingham from July 3rd – July 8th 2016.

In a very exciting and innovative programme young people are given an opportunity to see quality productions, develop their critical skills and make their own critical responses under the mentorship of leading International drama facilitators.

Who can take part?

Two participants from Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England and a further two participants from the host city of Birmingham will be selected to take part.

Participants will drawn through the partner organisations of Barnstorm Theatre Company (Ireland), Mess Up the Mess (Wales), NAYD (Ireland), Young Critic’s Wales, Youth Theatre Arts Scotland, A Younger Theatre (England), Theatre NI (Northern Ireland) and Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

In order to offer individual advice and guidance on developing each young person’s critical skills, places on the programme are limited to 12 places in total. Those who are interested should apply using the accompanying application form.

What happens during the Young Critics?

The Young Critics will meet in Birmingham from Sunday July 3rd to Friday July 8th. Over five days the Young Critics will attend a number of theatre productions, interact with the city, participate in workshops, live blog and share their views with delegates of ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering for 2016.

https://youngcriticsontheedge.wordpress.com

Review Moirai, Big Loop Theatre Company by Kaitlin Wray

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Moirai, a play that’s completely devised taking inspiration from Greek mythology. Through the use of physical theatre and narrative Big Loop Theatre Company create a beautiful performance that showed three girls resembling creatures who had the control over life, the measure of life, and death. The only props on stage where a box which had a spinning wheel inside with what seemed like an endless amount of string. The string represented everyones life and it was the creatures job to pull the sting, measure the string and then cut it. It started of light hearted yet there is a dark deep underlining meaning.

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The pre show music helped set the mood as it felt dystopian and out of this world. Before any dialogue happened two of the creatures showcase their boredom and waiting for something to happen, they perform a playful dance-like piece to resemble their characters. It was a clever way to open the show as the audience got to see an insight as to who they were. The great thing I enjoyed about this show was that it kept you guessing as to who they were or what they were doing until half way through. It then began to escalate and we find out exactly what sort of control they had. It was a brilliant well written play with great moments for each actor to shine, and shine they did.

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Allie Downing plays the creature that begins life, at the beginning we see sort of a child-like creature wanting attention when she’s bored. However when the one thing she cares about is threatened she does everything in her power to stop it. As an audience we really feel for Allie’s character and she does a wonderful job at portraying a character thats just lost everything.

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Ellen Thomas playing the creature that measures life, seems to be the leader out of the three. It is evident that the other two creatures respect her the most. From the beginning she seems completely head strong and wanting to just enjoy her job. However towards the end she reveals her true feelings and it’s quite emotional to watch.

Megan Swingler, plays the creature that represents death. It was her duty to cut the string. It is evident that she is frustrated and tired of cutting the string all day and is feeling overwhelmed. Megan plays a character who isn’t in her right mind and ends up taking a risk.

The collaboration of these three characters with their different personalities match really well on the stage. Their acting was incredible and overall it was a lovely piece to watch. It made me question the meaning of life and to think  “are we all just puppets”.

http://www.cardifffringetheatrefestival.co.uk/big-loop

Review Miramar Trigonl by Helen Joy

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

 

I have enjoyed a huge ice-cream sundae in the café and am happily taking my seat, when Enid comes over and has a chat. She tells me about the nasty business with her husband and how she’s had to sell the house.

It is a nasty business too. Poor woman. Homeless. Di gartref. How easily it can happen.

I have no idea how I have become fluent in Welsh. Enid is chatting away and we are all listening and we are all tutting and laughing and commiserating with her. She is exaggerated as a story-teller, she relishes the telling of her tale, she compensates for her loss through her canniness. We like Enid but we see she is a cunning old bird. We are sorry when her home is taken and renamed: Miramar. Awel y Mor is nicer, we agree. We don’t mind her moving back in while the new owners are away, china dogs in another family.

The slapstick comedy of the sausage and mash dinner hidden in the cupboard when the inevitable knock on the door comes. We are encouraged not to like the smart and sassy daughters of Miramar but of course, eventually we do. And the sausages make their mark on all of us.

This is about communication – about showing us that spoken language has just one part to play and so we roll from Welsh into English and back again without even noticing. It is about family, life and death and consequences. It is about different tastes and different times and places. It is about home. It is about shit. Cachu. It happens.

Simple props, careful costume and straightforward lighting. All we need to establish a sense of a house and its people in transition. It is nicely performed. Alice and Georgina make good foils to the characterful Enid. Light and dark, this is a strong play with a tidbit of fiery drama at the end. Y sosejis.

I ask two ladies, who are sitting in the evening sun outside The Red House on a Saturday night in Merthyr, whether they speak Welsh. No, they say in unison. Didn’t need to. Understood every word. We’ll be coming again. So funny. We laughed and laughed. Same here, I say. Finally, my knowledge of Welsh swearwords comes in handy and I share some choice ones. We part and you can hear us all laughing up the street. Am dipyn.

We all know everyone in it – recognise and enjoy!

Play:                Miramar

At:                   The Red House, Merthyr

Playwright:          Rebecca Smith-Williams

Producer:             Rebecca Knowles

Director:               James Williams

Theatre:                Triongl

Cast:                        Enid – Valmai Jones

Alice – Rebecca Knowles

Georgina – Rebecca Smith-Williams

Seen:              7.30pm, 18th June, 2016

Reviewer:      Helen Joy for 3rd Act Critics

Running:        Saturday 18th, Redhouse , Merthyr Tydfil

Wednesday 22nd – The Welfare, Ystradgynlais http://www.thewelfare.co.uk/

Links:               http://www.triongl.com/miramar.html