Tag Archives: just a few words

Review: Just a Few Words, Little Man Coffee Co. by Luke Seidel-Haas

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★★★★☆

Telling someone that you have feelings for them can be difficult enough at the best of times. Your palms go sweaty, your mouth dries up and you get butterflies in your stomach. Now imagine how much harder it would be if you have a speech impediment like a stutter or stammer. The more you try to get your words out, the more your mouth clamps up. This is the premise of Stammermouth‘s production of Just a Few Words. First performed at Edinburgh Festival in 2015 where it was nominated for the Total Theatre ‘shows by an emerging artist’ award, this show aims to raise the awareness of stuttering and ways in which it can be overcome.

Performed in the blank studio space downstairs in Little Man Coffee Co. in Cardiff city centre, the set is stripped back to the absolute minimum. In one corner is a record player which plays static and judders backwards and forwards across the same lines (insert joke about sounding like a stuck record here), and in the other corner is a pile of cue cards. These cards act partly as a simple way of communicating meaning, but at times also start to almost feel like a secondary character in the play, urging actor Nye Russell-Thompson to try to find the words he needs. The space is an excellent choice, as the minimalistic setup allows you to concentrate entirely on the words and on Nye’s captivating performance.

Self depreciating, honest and open, Nye demonstrates an incredible level of vulnerability. While he is playing a fictional character with the aim of telling someone he loves them, it is clear that much of the content is based on his own lived experience. Intimate and at times raw, the play feels simultaneously universal and highly personal in nature. As the play progresses we are invited to try and simulate what having a stammer would be like. Initially eliciting a few awkward laughs, Nye’s sincerity in trying to show us even a snippet of his experience is illuminating and allows us to feel the utmost sympathy for his situation. Functioning as a dark comedy, Just a Few Words invites us to laugh with Nye, never at him.

Many of us take it for granted that we are able to communicate fairly easily using the spoken language. Just a Few Words is an excellent and thought provoking reminder of the challenges that can arise from making ourselves understood, as well as the techniques used to help reduce or overcome stuttering. Performed with a captivating vulnerability by Nye Russell- Thompson, Just a Few Words is a simple yet spellbindingly effective account of one persons struggle to make themselves heard.

Written and performed by Nye Russell-Thompson

Produced by StammerMouth

Little Man Coffee Co. 3rd June 2018

Part of the Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival – more information and tickets here

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Luke Seidel-Haas

 

 

Review: Just A Few Words by Stammermouth by Sian Thomas

Yesterday I attended my first official 2018 Fringe Festival event, knowing based on last year and based on the Fringe Cafes that I would have a wonderful time – and I did. This festival already means quite a lot to me, so to be able to kick off its return again this year was a very visceral feeling that was nothing but positive. I was excited, and I was ready to go in straight away.

Just A Few Words was a show that I wanted to see because every aspect looked appealing; seemed short and sweet, seemed like the venue was in a good place, seemed like it was going to be funny with a quietly serious undertone – something I would realise later in the night the Fringe seems good at picking up. That alone was nice, a story with laughs and jokes layered thinly over something a little more hearty and gripping.

My first thought when watching the play was that there was a lot of realness to it. The talent and skill on stage was real and easily spotted; good techniques like idiosyncrasies and a swing in moods that rose the audience up and settled us back down in the right places for the mood. I value that a lot more than I think I really did; the ability to really touch my heart with a script and a practiced performance rather than having it just be “oh, I saw a play.”.

A really fun medium was used, too! One I haven’t experienced before. The Fringe must do this well, too, as I have fond memories of a fun medium used in Stories Of The Silver Tree from last year. This one, rather than audio, was cards. Things the audience could read, that played well as jokes and dialogue and what felt like a whole other character. It was different in a way that suits the Festival well; new and upcoming and hopefully does well for itself. An interesting take like this deserves to go further than what was our little theatre and a charmingly mismatched set of chairs and church pews. There was also audience participation! Which was sprung on me and terrifying (two things it always seems to be), but as it was pushed more and more I got a little more into it (and a lot more thankful for whoever was more confident than me and could lead me into it). I never expect audience participation to be singing, also, but there we all were: chiming in and harmonising and then some. The show had a nice runtime (just an hour! An easy thing to give) which made me see how the Fringe isn’t demanding of its guests. Everything is lax, and feels safe. The atmosphere at these events always feels good, and I always feel a little bit more included and integrated into the theatre scene when I go, so I’m excited to keep going! All in all, the evening had a wonderful vibe to it. A good feeling of artsy-ness and a good balance between safety and trying boundaries. After all, the story seemed to show that: trying fervently to say ‘I love you’ when the stammer itself prevents that and it’s easier to say nothing or to talk how you already know to.

I had fun, at the end of the day. I really did enjoy myself there. I know these reviews are important because feedback always is and I cannot hammer home hard enough that my feedback is positive and I hope with so much of my heart that these kind of plays and these kind of events never worm their way out of our lives. They’re important, and they make me happy. I’m giving it five stars, and I don’t think that’s a surprise.

There are so many more events coming over the two week period of the Fringe Festival, and I’m already excited for so many of them now my own attendance of it has finally truly kicked off! My next will be Live Show #1, at the Sherman Theatre, and I’m looking forward to it and going in with high hopes I don’t think will be dashed any time soon!

http://www.cardifffringetheatrefestival.co.uk/shows-tickets/ 

Sian Thomas