Review, Small Change, Peter Gill, Both Barrels Theatre, Omnibus Theatre By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

A blanket white stage. Some old, red colour metal scupltures. I hear someone describe them as artwork much like Barbara Hepworth. Very old city feel.

A set design, perfect for such a play. Small Change is set in Cardiff – these “sculptures” reminded me so much of the Bay, the docks, the nooks and crannies of Cardiff. Where there’s always something to discover around a corner.

Small Change tells the story of 2 boys and their 2 mothers – it looks at their relationships, all intertwining into one another, of the time period and its taboos, of mental health and repression. It’s a lot to put into a play and Both Barrels Theatre do this well.

Firstly, we have to talk about the accents. All very perfect, I suddenly felt transported to my family, to my time in Wales, and it erupted personal memories for me. Granted, this may not do this for every audience member, but the thick sing song accent certainly helped place the performers before our eyes in Cardiff.

The play took another worldly, unusual turn. The writing of Small Change is at times nonsensical but also poetic – just like most Welsh writers, there is a poetic and descriptive aspect to the narrative, and this not only felt unique to the play but also highlighted a unique part of Welsh theatre. Repetitive statements, questions, rhetoric. The genius of the writing is one of truly great playwrights in that it is unusual, it is one of a kind but also allows the director and performers to read into it and develop their own opinions and approaches to the text. And Both Barrels have utilised this.

I wasn’t expecting and was certainly pleasantly pleased to see physical theatre – a type of theatre that I feel I see less of and which is a shame, because it is so interesting how atmosphere and feelings can be shown through movement. We really feel the struggle, the sense of looking back at the past, the changes in time, and the moments of real emotional turmoil not only through the writing and the performers conviction, but also their movement.

Small Change drew me in; it is poignant, it is a really unique take on a well known production and the physical theatre is fitting and fluid.

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