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.