Tag Archives: Rachel O’Riordan

Review The Cherry Orchard, Sherman Theatre by Kevin Johnson

This is not a new version of the Chekhov classic, but a ‘re-imagining’ by Welsh writer Gary Owen, of Killology & Iphigenia In Splott fame. Owen relocates it from 1890’s Russia to the Pembroke coast in 1982, just prior to the Falklands War, which makes for a very interesting choice.

It feels like every dysfunctional family drama you’ve ever seen, until you realise Chekhov originated the idea of real characters, with real problems, talking like real people.

Family matriarch Rainey, who has crawled into a bottle after the death of her son over a decade ago, followed soon after by the suicide of her husband, is virtually dragged back to the family home from London by Anya, her youngest daughter. Her self-destructive lifestyle has lead to the family home on the Pembroke coast being auctioned off to pay the debts.

Val, her eldest daughter, has held things together, but they need Raynie’s permission (and signature) to save it. All agree that the only viable option is to sell off the ancestral cherry orchard for redevelopment, but will she see it that way?

This play is incredibly funny and well-worth seeing, if only for the way Owen makes it so accessible to Welsh eyes. The ‘Russian peasants’ now come from housing estates, the decaying aristocracy are English interlopers, and the Communist revolutionaries are now Thatcherites, sweeping the past away without a thought or concern.

At the heart of the play is the idea that the future is farther away than we hope, while the past is always closer than we’d like. The characters here are continually haunted, not by spirits, but by the ghosts of memories, taunting them with remembrance.

Rainey tries to forget through excess, her guilt at losing her son gnawing away at her, like a rat sown inside her skin. In the end it causes her to take drastic action, and Denise Black brings all this out in a masterful performance that makes you feel sorry for her, even while she’s being a monster to all and sundry.

The entire cast take their moments when offered, yet still make this a true ensemble piece. Morfydd Clark is sweetly sensual as the young Anya, while Hedydd Dylan as her elder sister Val, shows us a woman who tries to run other people’s lives, but fails at her own.

Simon Armstrong as Gabe, Rainey’s brother, is amusingly ineffectual, yet quietly sharp. When Val talks about Rainey not telling him about her plans to leave he replies “We’ve been brother & sister half a century. Through awful things. Do you think saying ‘goodbye’ makes any difference?”

Alexandria Riley gives us a Dottie that is down to earth yet shows the love/hate relationship she has with the family, while Richard Mylan is funny, while also imparting a wise naïveté to Ceri.

Mathew Bulgo, given the task of Lewis, the ‘poor boy made good’, effects a performance of subtlety that defies the historical villain the role has been seen as. With the insults he endures from the others, and denied the role of ‘family saviour’ by Rainey, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for him.

Writer Gary Owen conveys a situation full of layers, and also offers some nice ironies. Ceri’s expectations of Margaret Thatcher getting the blame for the Falklands War being one, Gabe’s job offer as an investment banker another.

When you add all this to Rachel O’Riordan’s deft direction, Kenny Miller’s intriguingly skewed set, and Kevin Tracey’s ingenious lighting, the Sherman Theatre demonstrates yet again that it is punching well above its weight in the theatre world.

There is so much going on here that I actually re-read the script in one go afterwards, and was still as gripped as I was by seeing it. The play is funny, ironic, witty, sarcastic and quietly heartbreaking. It is a story of loss, of people, places and things, and how memories both haunt and define us.

As F. Scott Fitzgerald once observed: ‘We beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past‘.

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

Kevin Johnson

Iphigenia in Splott, a conversation in text by Leslie R Herman Jones

This response started as a real text convo between me in NYC and Joel (JF) in our home in Adamsdown, Cardiff. It inspired me to continue in this format. Instead of commenting that the language in the play was strong, and potentially offensive to some audiences, the response enters into the spirit of the drama and uses its vernacular. The other person in this scripted response is my daughter Tillie as TJ, who attended the performance with me. – LJ.

LJ: I saw Iphigenia in Splott in NYC on Wednesday night.

JF: What was it about?

LJ: A drunken slag on Clifton St….

JF: Anyone I know?

LJ: Her world; her straight-talking shit-faced attitude.

JF: Was it set in the Clifton pharmacy getting her methadone fix?

LJ: I said a drunk not a druggie.

JF: Oh….

LJ: Her hopes, fears, delusions… how the world impacts on her and she impacts on the world…

JF: What’s her name?

LJ: Iphigenia. Effie for short.

JF: How did it go down?

LJ: New York is a pretty gritty city, you know…

JF: You would know, born and bred there.

LJ: Yes I would. So, I think they got it. Apart from a smattering of laughs in the right places (but not all the right places), Sophie Melville’s Effie silenced the house throughout with her intimidating, in-your-face performance of this real toughie from Splott, Cardiff.  New Yorkers understandably missed a few laughs for  which you’d really have to be there to fully appreciate. As well, some of the micro-cultural and geo-specific references may have gotten lost in translation, but overall the impact was powerful.

JF: And you knows your Caadiff, too, innit love?

LJ: Living in the ‘Diff for 35 years and off Clifton Street for ten of them ? I’ve got the T-shirt, love,… with the distinct privilege of calling The Clifton my local…

JF: We’ve seen a bit down the Clifton…

LJ: I’ve definitely avoided the likes of Effie down Clifton Street, the wounded urban warrior, bruised and battered but still standing; spitting and swearing, daring you and scaring you just by staring at you…..

JF: Yep….

LJ: Melville’s impressive performance as Effie clearly kept the audience gripped — holding on tight while she soared (Bar scene) and sank (Birthing scene) and dragged us ducking and diving through the gutter of her frenzied and high-risk out of control life.

JF: Woa! Who wrote the play?

LJ: Gary Owen.

JF: Fair play. Sounds like she did justice to the part.

LJ: She did, though she may have missed some of the nuances of the authentic Splott voice and persona that are thoroughly embedded in Owen’s script, falling just short of the highest highs and the lowest lows possible with such a tragic figure.

JF: Who directed it?

LJ: Sherman Theatre’s, Artistic Director, Rachel O’Riordan. And quite strategically. The simple set (Hayley Grindle) served this small stage. A few chairs scattered randomly, and a light fixture of fluorescent strip lights, some falling off (Lighting Designer, Rachel Mortimer) reflected a cheap and nasty flat above a shop on Clifton Street.

JF: Grunge chic…

LJ: Charting Effie’s movements across the stage was great sport — if you’re into sports and sporting analogies.

JF: Sure, I could be…

LJ: O’Riorden’s tactical staging cleverly anticipated the high points of the story by directing Effie to, say, shift a chair a number of beats beforehand, then having her double back to start a scene in order to arrive at that chair at just the right point, to score!

JF: lol

LJ: And with a pivot or a dart or a scramble across around and through the Cardiff landscape, satisfying-for-natives references to Cardiff landmarks throughout the script, O’Riordan’s use of this minimalistic set, with zero props, demanded that Melville command the space and permitted the beautifully steely script to tell the story.

JF:Sounds like you enjoyed it.

LJ: TJ cried. It was rather sad, but I didn’t cry.

JF:Why didn’t you?

LJ: I suppose it was all a bit too real. Its was so close to real life, it hurt more physically than emotionally. I ached for a while afterwards.

JF: Come back, Cardiff misses you.

LJ: I’ll be back in August.

Iphigenia in Splott played at 59E59, NYC as part of their Brits Off Broadway season, from 9 May to 4 June.

http://www.59e59.org/moreinfo.php?showid=283

 

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 Stars4 / 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

 

Interview with Assistant Director of The Weir, Chelsey Gillard.

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Chelsey Gillard

Get the Chance Young Critic Lauren Ellis-Stretch recently got the chance to chat to Chelsey Gillard Assistant Director of The Weir currently playing at The Sherman Theatre. They discussed her journey and experiences as a young director, generous tipping of bar staff, and the basis of the show itself.

What is the Weir about, for you?

‘Ahh -this is such a tough question. The Weir is such a multi-layered play that covers so many huge topics – the supernatural, grief, the depopulation of Rural Ireland, love…. the list goes on. At it’s heart I feel the play is about the ways we connect with each other as human beings and how we chose to relate to the natural world around us. Little acts of kindness play a huge role in the script and I really think it is telling us to do those things for others when we possibly can.

Through what training and experiences have you come to be an assistant director at the Sherman?

‘I applied to be the assistant director and had to attend an interview. Before this I have directed my own work and also been an assistant director for various venues and directors. This is my first time working at The Sherman on a main stage production. I studied English and Drama at university, all through my degree and in the two years since graduating I saw as much theatre as possible and tried to meet as many directors as possible to ask their advice on how to do what they do. Before that I was also a critic – a great way to see shows and think about them in a considered and logical way.

A video of Chelsey Gillard and Rachel Williams presenting at the National Rural Touring Forum on Bridgend Young Critics Project.

How did you prepare yourself for the role of assistant director on this piece?

‘I read the play – many, many, many times. I made lots of notes on the play looking for any parts that were of particular interest to me. The play takes place in a bar so I also made notes about who had what drinks and who paid for each round and other details that would be useful in the rehearsal room. As the play is also set in Ireland I did a lot of research about the kind of area the characters live in and the folklore that is mentioned in the play.’

Do you have an impressive ‘bar’ story?

‘Oh, I’m not sure. As a young freelance director I have to sometimes work other jobs to help pay the bills, so I will sometimes work as a bartender for one off events. When I was working at a really posh wedding the father of the bride decided he liked me – as my name is the same as his favourite football team. So thanks to my name I left that wedding with a crate of the most delicious red wine I’ve ever tried as well as a great tip!’

Is there anything specific you have learnt and will take from your time working on this play?

‘I’ve learnt so much watching Rachel O’Riordan the show’s director and Artistic Director of The Sherman Theatre in the rehearsal room – she is just amazing! It’s been great to see how to usefully bring lots of research into the rehearsal process in a way that is useful to the actors. I’ve also never worked on a stage the size of the Sherman main stage so that has been a really good chance to pick up tips on how to make a show feel really intimate even when it’s in a big space.’

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Artistic Director of The Sherman Theatre and director of The Weir  Rachel O’Riordan (centre) with the cast of The Weir in rehearsals.

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 Gemma Treharne-Foose

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4 Stars4 / 5

“We can’t escape who we are”

‘Bird’s popularity is simply soaring at the moment. As it approaches the end of its successful run in the Sherman, I (fashionably late as always), rocked up to the Sherman on Thursday night to finally see what the fuss was all about. The play, written by Katherine Chandler and directed by Rachel O’Riordan, focuses on two girls (Ava played by Georgina Henshaw and Tash played by Rosie Sheey) living in a care home facility finding their way in a world which has so far been  cruel to them. They are on the cusp of something and we feel it intensely – but what?

The opening scenes between Ava and her Mother (played by Siwan Thomas) are awkward, desperate and heart-breaking to watch, setting the scene for the play. A raw, nervy and tense romp through the concepts of family, motherhood, friendship, coercion and control. The story of the play is depressingly commonplace (for those who have ever worked in/been associated with social care)  Georgia Henshaw’s performance as Ava is simply spellbinding to watch as she squirms, paces and darts around frantically on stage. The girls, bound by tragedy and victims of terrible circumstance, are headed towards something they do not even understand themselves. Who will love these girls and who will look after them? Dare they even dream that there could be another life, another fate for them?

The play flitters between moments of light laughter and innocence, the joy of the affections the girls have for each other and the murky, intimidating relationships closing in on Ava and Tash. There are some difficult scenes and parallels echoing tragedies in recent years in Glasgow and Rochdale. There are moments in the play where your heartbreak for Ava’s and her (perhaps) inevitable fate  will punch you in the gut.

“We can’t escape who we are” (Tash)

The play seems timely with recent reports suggesting that children in care homes are over-represented in the criminal justice system and criminalised over minor incidents.

‘Children in care should not be prosecuted for minor offences, a report looking at their over-representation in the criminal justice system says. The review for the Prison Reform Trust calls on the government to draw up new procedures to protect these children from criminalisation.’

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-36342621

http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/In%20care%20out%20of%20trouble%20summary.pdf

There has been an increasing focus on plays like Bird acting as a form of ‘cultural tourism’ or ‘poverty porn’. We’re saturated with so-called poverty porn in wider popular culture. In recent times, television shows like Benefit Street, Shameless and even the Jeremy Kyle show sensationalise and feed in to the wider dominant narrative around the deserving poor vs. underserving poor. Our tolerance and understanding of these central characters often depends on the characterisation of the subjects/case studies within the production: are they even trying to change? Are they worthy? Are they a lost cause? Damaged goods? Could they ever be ‘useful citizens’, whatever that means. Are theatre productions like Bird, Boy (Almedia Theatre, London) and Re:Home (The Yard, London) recreating a similar kind of ‘human zoo’ that we see so often on the TV?

Depicting poverty in popular culture can have positive consequences on our understanding on social class and real poverty.  The appalling slums and workhouses depicted in Dickens’ novels serve as a form of social commentary of life in Britain during rapid industrialisation and urban growth.

“In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt, as injustice.” Charles Dickens

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Slum housing in Providence Place, London, 1909. Copyright: © London Metropolitan Archives 

Stateside, documentary photographer Dorothea Lange’s photograph of a desperate and hungry mother during the Great depression would propel the Government in to action to aid migrant labourers and their families.

1936 --- Florence Owens Thompson, 32, a poverty-stricken migrant mother with three young children, gazes off into the distance. This photograph, commissioned by the FSA, came to symbolize the Great Depression for many Americans. --- Image by © CORBIS

Migrant Mother Dorothea Lange

In 1960s Britain, we were rocked by Ken Loach’s drama documentary ‘Cathy Come Home’, which exposed the harsh realities of homelessness and unemployment. (Loach continues to focus on this themes with his film  ‘I, Daniel Blake’ recently winning the  Palme d’Or at Cannes. ) ‘Cathy Come Home’ caused outrage, prompting a debate in Parliament and leading to the establishment of the charity ‘Crisis’. It is a great example of how culture can influence the political agenda and is widely recognised as one of the greatest drama documentaries ever made.

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Theatre like Bird can challenge us and take us out of our comfort zone  Are we actually mobilised and ready for any sort of real change in ‘Austerity Britain?’ and does the play actually inspire you to do anything with your emotional investment in the characters? Are we now too apathetic to be shocked in to action? It is surprising that in the play it is Lee who highlights how disconnected Ava – and we – are with the wider world. “Human contact – it’s important.” Yet as he tells Ava, we are too busy looking at our phones to connect (face-to-face) with one another and have difficult conversations. Are we also too busy being manipulated that we are now more focussed on debating over who ‘deserves’ our help and feathering our own nests?

Theatre can and should be a vehicle for social change, just like a well-made viral video or popular cause campaign. Plays like Bird can shine a light on the problem. Could more be done to  help audiences think about solutions? Could charities and outreach organisations capitalise on these engaged audiences? In much the same way as the creation of the charity ‘Crisis’ was born from ‘Cathy Come Home’ Like so many of those who’ve been coming to see Bird and emerging from the theatre positive, pumped and ready to make change in society, charities may well be in a prime position to help. A text donation, a volunteering opportunity – anything! That’s something I’d like to see take off…

Drama

Bird
Sherman theatre
May 26th

By Katherine Chandler

Director Rachel O’Riordan

Designer Kenny Miller

Lighting Designer Kevin Treacy

Composer and Sound Designer Simon Slater

Assistant Director Elgan Rhys

Casting Director Sophie Parrott CDG
Cast

Ava – Georgia Henshaw

Claire – Siwan Morris

Dan – Connor Allen

Lee – Guy Rhys

Tash – Rosie Sheehy

Running time: 1hr 20 mins.

Review Bird Sherman Cymru By Kaitlin Wray

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4 Stars4 / 5

Bird’ the title of this play took off just like a bird itself. A play that took hold of us from the very moment the first word was uttered until the blackout at the end. Rachel O’Riordan, the director of ‘Bird’ with assistant director Elgan Rhys by her side made sure this play not only, ticked all the boxes but was a complete success.

This was a very clever production written by Katherine Chandler that had twists and turns, it was a play about two young girls in a care home struggling with their past but trying to face up to their future. This is a story that’s so raw I felt like I was trespassing into their private lives. Due to the raw nature, some of the words are at times  lost due to the quick-pace naturalistic acting  but even so, that didn’t take away from the performances overall. Each actor didn’t fault within their characters and it was definitely perfectly cast. The set, designed by Kenny Miller, was simplistic yet effective and I loved the use of the two levels.

Georgia Henshaw, playing the 15 year old protagonist, Ava, showed her naivety and was full of the energy that you could imagine from a girl of that age. However she also portrayed a girl that has been through a lot. Georgia really embodied her character and it was a great performance to watch.

Siwan Morris, playing Claire, Ava’s mother, did a phenomenal job at making the audience completely loathe a character and then feeling sympathy towards her in the end. After loving the character of Angie, Siwan played from the first two series of Skins, she was nearly unrecognisable as Claire. Yet both characters she played were phenomenal.

Rosie Sheehy, playing Ava’s best friend had a voice with such vocal clarity that I loved to listen to, furthermore her dancing skills were on point. Connor Allen, playing a 17 year old Dan who is Ava’s love interest felt like the realest character out of them all who says things as they are. Connor’s characterisation was comedic and entertaining. Last but not least was Guy Rhys who did a great job at acting like a creepy fatherly figure-like role. Throughout the performance it was unclear of his intentions with Ava and Guy and he did a good job at portraying this. This character has one big secret that causes the biggest twist of all.

If you want to know what happened then I would highly recommend going to see ‘Bird’ as it’s a performance that has great technical proficiency with outstanding direction and performers who will no doubt make a great career out of acting.

Director- Rachel O’Riordan

Writer- Katherine Chandler

Designer- Kenny Miller

Composer and Sound Designer- Simon Slater

Deputy Stage Manager- Charlotte Unwin

Lighting Designer- Kevin Treacy

Assistant Director- Elgan Rhys

Review Bird Sherman Cymru by Kiera Sikora

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5 Stars5 / 5

If you believe that theatre should make you feel like you’ve been hit in the head and heart with raw, honest and thought provoking reality then ‘Bird’ is a play that will soar through your mind well after you’ve applauded and left the theatre.

Set by the coast ‘Bird’ follows the story of two young girls in a care home, lost to the loniless of forced and inflicted cruelty. Ava, played incredibly by Georgia Henshaw, is torn inside the comfort she wants and the comfort she is given. Her friend Tash (Rosie Sheehy) a victim of the same complex, is her stead and dancing heroine who speaks more sense than sense usually allows. Together they are our focus- and we are thrown into their world of dance, danger and desolate distress.

We meet Ava’s mother (Siwan Morris), an irate yet seemingly frightened woman with a brash voice and an even brasher manner, who’s discomfort with dialogue mirrors her daughter’s physicality, and we are immediately shown the disfunctional relationship the two share- with the reasons why hinted at ambiguously. We see from the very beginning that Ava longs for a relationship with her mother, the lack of which which we assume to be her reason for wanting to find a certain sense of comfort wherever she can. It is this search for comfort and security that throws both of these girls into the danger of the men around them. Dan (Connor Allen) is a young boy looking to get lucky with a kind wit and a convincing smile, and Lee (Guy Rhys) is a middle aged taxi driver looking to lure and nest young sparrows at their very weakest.

But it is what Chandler does here, that really makes ‘Bird’ the prime play that it is. She humanises each character. With every flaw and every laugh, every smile and every slice of persuasion- she lets us see the people inside the story so closely that you feel sick for thinking that you could like a person like Lee. The horrendous thing is, Bird shows you how easy it to like him. And also how easy it is for vulnerable young women to disregard themselves so deeply that they become a target for the inhumane vultures who prey on them as he does. We steer away from these people in society, we ignore them and hope that we aren’t the type to socialise with ‘people like them’. But when human interaction is all that you want because it’s all that you feel you need to make your world more liveable, then you will find it and you will saver it, whether it’s wrong or right because nothing is more overpowering than desire. It is that that connects Ava and Lee, Lee and Tash, Dan and Ava and indeed Claire and Paul. The connections, the emotion and the drama that corrupts these individuals is harrowing and it’s hunger for revelation is hurtfully desperate.

There is so much to be said for this play- it’s impact, it’s design, it’s softly suited sound and simplistic yet cleverly constructed set. But it’s what this play achieves, along with it’s strong cast and carefully crafted direction that headlines it’s importance. To voice what it is to be a person on the outskirts of a society that has disregarded them. And what it is to listen to those voices and know that it’s happening. It’s real. And that we must think. Deeply. Often.

Katherine Chandler yet again strikes a burning match with her words and invites the audience into a world that many feel they cannot or will not understand- we owe her greatly for giving us the chance to try.

‘Bird’ runs at the Sherman Cymru, Cardiff until 28th May and then at Royal Exchange, Manchester from 8th-25th June.

It’ll hurt your heart but it’s worth it.

Director- Rachel O’Riordan
Designer- Kenny Miller
Composer and Sound Designer- Simon Slater
Deputy Stage Manager- Charlotte Unwin
Lighting Designer- Kevin Treacy
Assistant Director- Elgan Rhys

Review Bird Sherman Cymru by Lauren Ellis-Stretch

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5 Stars5 / 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!