Tag Archives: Kenny Miller

REVIEW: ‘SNOUT’ SHERMAN THEATRE BY GEMMA TREHARNE-FOOSE

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

This was my second time to attend a ‘Play, Pie and a Pint’ at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff and once again it did not disappoint. This low-cost evening is a great option for those looking for bite-size and accessible nights at the theatre. Perhaps in anticipation of the subject material in the play, there was a vegetarian pie option. Thankfully, no pork pies were on the menu!

Snout is the latest new product from Sherman Theatre and Oran Mor’s partnership and is a new script from the writer Kelly Jones: winner of the BBC Wales Drama Award in 2014.

Those with a penchant for pork – beware! Snout is a play that does not beat around the bush when it comes to broaching the subject of animal welfare. The central three characters are pigs – Coco, Lacey and Viv , skilfully represented by Claire Cage, Michele Gallagher and Sally Reid.

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We are led through their backstories from within a cramped, dirty lorry and as the tension and claustrophobia sets in, it slowly becomes clear that Viv is keeping a secret that even she doesn’t want to face. Far from a day out ‘at the fete’ there is a far worse fate awaiting them at the other end of the journey.  As the panic and the fear becomes palpable – there is scrapping and squealing via a tense soundtrack courtesy of Andy Cowan, squabbling and bickering between Coco and Lacey and desperate praying and bargaining from Viv. There is something horrible brewing for these three little pigs.

Director Kenny Miller could so easily have played up the ‘pig’ image: via masks, curly tails or cutesy ears. But the three characters clothes and regular appearance only serve to humanise them and make the audience acknowledge what is about to happen to them.

‘How would they feel if it was them – their children?’ one of the characters says. We realise how pigs and pork are so firmly embedded our popular culture, our vernacular and our food choices: greedy pig, pig ugly, pig ignorant, bringing home the bacon, looking ‘porky’.

There are some really grim passages where Viv describes how her sister Annie was taken away, how the meat is butchered, prepared, consumed and sometimes even sexualised and fetishised. As an audience member, I felt almost complicit in the suffering of Viv, Coco and Lacey and the theatre space and sheer proximity to the cramped box feels claustrophobic for you too.

There are tender moments played out following Lacey’s electric shock after a panicked escape attempt. I could not take my eyes off Sally Reid (who plays Coco), whose spiky and awkward demeanour is softened as we progress in the play.

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The play shines a light on the sheer hypocrisy and selfishness of meat consumption and meat for fashion purposes and for me certainly, threw up a few questions. Why do I care so much about whether my chicken is free range, but not my pork? Why do I crinkle my nose at the thought of eating veal, but not suckling pig? Why is tripe revolting to me but not belly pork? I know that pigs are intelligent animals, so why have I never thought about whether they know what’s awaiting them at the end of their trips to the slaughterhouse. Do I really care about animals if I have this knowledge and do not act upon it?

I had my reservations about whether or not the play would be preachy or overtly anti-meat eating, but it was to character-led for that. What Kelly Jones’ script does manage to do well is to make you question yourself, to step outside your frame of reference and pre-conceived thoughts.  I can’t tell you if Coco, Lacey and Viv made it….but I can tell you that my enthusiasm for ‘meat free’ Mondays has tripled since seeing the play. And I will lay off the bacon for a while, I think…

Type of show: Theatre
Title: Snout (A play, Pie and a Pint)
Venue: The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff
Dates: 8-12 Nov
Author: Kelly Jones
Director: Kenny Miller

Ross Kirkland / Chris Reilly: Lighting Designer
Andy Cowan: Sound Designer
Jonathan Scott: Designer
Gemma Patchett: Assistant Designer
Claire Cage: Coco
Michele Gallagher: Lacey
Sally Reid: Viv

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Review The Weir, The Sherman Theatre by Lauren Ellis-Stretch

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Valerie – Orla Fitzgerald | Jim – Richard Clements | Finbar – Steven Elliott | Brendan – Patrick Moy | Jack – Simon Wolfe (C) Camilla Adams — at Sherman Theatre.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) The Weir is encapsulating.

On a blustering night deep within the mystic Irish countryside, even in the comfort of community, friendship and booze there is little to be certain of. Conor McPherson’s ‘The Weir’ is a triumph in story-telling, and under the masterful direction of Rachel O’Riordan is not only chilling but compelling.

There is an odd contentment in the solace of shared experiences, and at the Sherman Theatre, on stage or off, the atmosphere was electrifyingly fused – it didn’t seem so nightmarish to be sat with strangers on either side. O’Riordan’s direction is so seamless that it thrusts and drags and clasps you into submission, before any digestion of what is happening. The audience were left desperate, grasping at any silence that could be appropriately filled with laughter.

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Finbar – Steven Elliott | Valerie – Orla Fitzgerald (C) Camilla Adams — at Sherman Theatre.

To perform a piece stepped in Irish heritage and folk-law to a metropolitan audience in Wales’ capital, and have it received so graciously is a testament to its actors and their craft in story-telling. It is a two-sided agreement in which audiences must venture beyond ‘Les Mis’ and ‘Grease’, and all that inhabits their comfort zone to access unfamiliar culture. And, equally responsible, the Sherman Theatre, as well as various other art centres within Wales are evolving the country’s arts scene, in their community events and outreach programmes; offering a way out of our ostracised communities, and incestuous thinking.

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Jim – Richard Clements | Jack – Simon Wolfe (C) Camilla Adams — at Sherman Theatre.

In Simon Wolfe’s execution of Jack there lies a particular tactful ferocity and subtlety. He is not once stereotyped or pre-empted, he is a man with principals, honour, and regret. Orla Fitzgerald as Valerie is wispy and engaging and proves less is more in her self-contained torture. She is humbling to watch. As a cast, Richard Clements, Steven Elliott, Orla Fitzgerald, Simon Wolfe, and Patrick Moy are sublime, generous and wholly complimenting as one. As each character took to share their own story, all around them would soften and their faces would become beacons in the darkness – you would go everywhere with them.

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Valerie – Orla Fitzgerald | Jack – Simon Wolfe – Brendan – Patrtick Moy (C) Camilla Adams — at Sherman Theatre.

Designer Kenny Miller’s staging is bare and simplistic offering comfortability in a no clutter/bull shit ruling for the piece.

The Weir is truthful and raw, and is exactly what is needed to counter-act any audience’s consuming of ‘TOWIE’ or one of the many Kardashian spin-off series. It is a classic of contemporary theatre; empathetic, voyeuristic, and unnerving.

The Weir will be playing at the Sherman until the 22/10/16. It then transfers to the Tobacco Factory in Bristol 25 Oct -05 Nov 2016.

http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/performance/theatre/the-weir/

The Weir

 

Review Bird Sherman Cymru by Lauren Ellis-Stretch

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5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Ava (Georgia Henshaw) and Tash (Rosie Sheehy) are young, optimistic and disfigured teens. Their friendship and integral bond is rooted within the whirlwind of complicated lives and a callous society. As Ava dashes and flitters off every object, person and syllable, Tash is always at heights, dancing at the edge of the world – awaiting flight.

Never have I experienced such an encompassing performance. I strolled into the Sherman, and left sprinting. But, regardless of my train times, Bird is a play that melts the facades and the barriers, and leaves you trying to fly – in all senses of the word.

An elderly man, as the audience were sipping the last dregs of their wine/settling, I heard from the front row, turn to his wife and speculate ‘I think it’s a comedy’. ‘I don’t think so mate’ I quipped, in thought. However, now I see that Bird cannot be constrained to a genre, or what people want it to be. Ava – stunningly performed by Georgia Henshaw – has an infectious spirit and an undeniably truthful perception of life. Resulting in imposing moments of frolic and uncontained rage, I didn’t feel the back of my chair once. Rosie Sheehy, too, must be applauded. Her exploration of the depth within the thirteen-year-old was wonderfully perceptive and chilling.

Katherine Chandler is a writer who sees the world empathetically and urges us all to do so. Desperation is far too attainable as the play’s women appease the men surrounding them. Does the honesty of ‘It just got too much,’ vindicate all the vodka, and the manipulation, and the self-serving? Chandler holds up a mirror to the real world and the audience are almost blinded by the familiar reflections.

Close to the surface lurks the grit and tensions of the women’s lives. The set designed by Kenny Miller, ingeniously incorporates this theme as the characters stand upon the yellowing, moulded tiles of a swimming pool beneath a sky of industrial light.

‘Bird’ is a sharply directed play – so successfully done that it’s easy to forget it had to be constructed that way. Rachel O’Riordan presents a piece of astoundingly compelling theatre as every silence, gesture and intonation propels the audience deeper within the crevices of the narrative.

Very rarely do you leave the theatre in, slightly paralysing, awe. A play as impacting as ‘Bird’ is not to be missed!