So it’s 20th October 2022, and I’m in my hometown of Porthcawl, walking up to the Grand Pavilion, a place I have frequented often over the past 23 years of my life. The lights from inside reflect and shine on the seaside town, but this time, we’re going downstairs. We’re going to watch a production by Dirty Protest called My Mix(ed up) Tape. I’m not sure what to expect but I’m excited, I’m ready to go in with an open mind. We head downstairs. It’s an encouraging number of people in the audience, and quite a different target to those who usually attend the performances in our small town. I’m pleased. The stage is set up with projections, and subtitles, and the room is set up with small round tables. What am I in for? I’m hit with music. DJ Glade Marie is vibing on the stage with her DJ set up, and suddenly I’m vibing too. I order a beer at the bar, sit down, and take in the atmosphere.
Then there she is, Katie Payne. A burst of energy, and we are thrown in straight away. Immersed in her story telling. I love her voice, she has a great Welsh accent that just makes me feel at home. She’s come back home to Pontypridd after living in London for a while. She’s here for her cousins wedding. She’s just been chucked out by the bouncer. She’s causing a bit of havoc, something we realise may not be an uncommon occurrence for Katie. She may be the only one who’s speaking on stage but she is not alone. She knows the town and the people like the back of her hand. She physicalises them well, and she manages to bring them to life. It’s comedic, it’s fun, then suddenly, it’s dark.
Katie’s story is beautifully matched with a wide range of music that makes up her mix tape. The music is the second performer in this play. It makes me feel something- comfort, excitement, bliss. It elevates the moments and provides the perfect soundtrack for Payne’s story. I was really enjoying the different styles, some well-known classics, but also a few more obscure and underground tracks which I really appreciated. Music is clearly nostalgia and expression for Katie, and it’s the same for me. I felt connected to her. Like when a song you really love comes on and you find out your mate likes it too. Then all that’s left to do is dance.
Katie and Glade Marie had many subtle and unique interactions throughout the play. The little moments they shared felt sometimes like we were intruding on them as an audience. I was curious about their relationship, but it worked, and it left me wanting more.
Paynes’ performance was phenomenal and I was pretty speechless by the end of the production. The way she made use of the whole space, her voice, her movement, her energy, her pacing, were all on point and totally mind-blowing. I didn’t find myself disengaging once throughout the hour and fifteen minutes. I honestly don’t know how she did it, and how she made it look so effortless.
I couldn’t fault this production and I couldn’t give it anything but 5 stars. When you are let into someone’s mind, their vulnerability, their fears, and their truth, it’s such a privilege, and not one to be taken lightly. Everyone should see this production and have the privilege of witnessing Katie Payne’s performance first hand. The messaging is strong and I feel it would resonate with many audiences. This is a remarkable play, culminating from a raw female voice straight out of the Welsh Valleys. It’s overwhelming and confusing, It’s electric, it’s dark, it’s funny, it’s real, it’s brave.
You can find out more about the tour and book tickets here