Pictures by Kirsten McTernan
Described by Guardian critic Michael Billington as ‘a startling debut that spluttered and fizzed like an out-of-control firework’, Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco starts its Welsh tour this week at Chapter in a revival by Waking Exploits. Chapter – famed for showcasing new works alongside old – is the venue where Gary Owen’s stage debut made its first appearance in February 2001. Since then, Owen has found much success as a playwright, now writing for Sherman Cymru, National Theatre Wales and the Royal Court, establishing himself as one of Wales’ most daring and definitive literary voices. This production, however, will bring the play and its writer back to their roots; back home, where they belong.
The play, set in small town Wales on a night out, concerns three very different but similarly flawed men whose masculinity is in crisis. Each one is desperate to shed those innate reputations that still haunt them from their schooldays – ‘the geek, the gimp and the bully.’ Owen essentially provides a voice for these men, unleashing a lifetime of frustration through a relentless tirade of visceral, abrasive monologues.
Waking Exploits have previously been lauded for their ground-breaking, innovative and ambitious projects, performing works by contemporary masters such as Caryl Churchill, Dennis Kelly and Simon Stephens. Also on board is director Matt Ball, formerly the two-year Creative Associate for National Theatre Wales and five-year Artistic Director for Camden People’s Theatre. Its cast will include Jordan Bernarde, Gwydion Rhys and Sion Pritchard. In other words, it is sure to be a good’un.
Gary Owen himself has said of the project, “It will be brilliant, but slightly weird, to see this play being done in Chapter again. It’s been done loads – every year, there are a couple of productions somewhere in the world – but seeing the play that started my career, at the venue where it was first produced, is going to be a huge pleasure. And slightly unsettling.”
After picking up the library’s copy of the play, I am quite pleased to say that I devoured it in one sitting. Coupled with the expertise of the creative team behind it, I expect this production will do it the justice it deserves.