Reviewed by Barbara Hughes-Moore
The Sherman Theatre’s 50th year kicked off with an impressive triple bill of Ghost Cities, Romeo and Julie, and Imrie – but Love, Cardiff: 50 Years of Your Stories is truly the icing on this most stacked of birthday cakes.
Written by the cast in collaboration with Paul Jenkins, Love, Cardiff is indeed a love letter to the city and the people who call it home. The show is directed by Francesca Pickard, who joined the Sherman this summer as its new Creative Engagement Coordinator, and makes an impressive company debut. The production is a culmination of 15 weeks in which Pickard and producer Mehdi Razi worked with members of five community groups in Cardiff, supporting them in identifying and conveying the stories they wanted to tell.
Their stories are framed by a narrative featuring the Theatre’s namesakes: the Sherman brothers, played by actors Richard Emerson and Simon Howells. Harry and Abe Sherman, whose parents were Eastern European Jewish immigrants, were businessmen and philanthropists who helped to transform Cardiff into what it is today. The show’s framing device has the brothers learning about how the Sherman Theatre – which in 2019 became Wales’ first theatre of sanctuary – has continued their philanthropic work by cultivating a safe space for all, told by those who have now taken up the baton.
The cast includes members of Cardiff’s Deaf Community, Cathays Day Provision, Kurdish All Wales Association (KAWA), Waulah Cymru and the Welsh Ballroom Community. Their stories and performances, while at times tinged with tragedy, are authentic, joyous and fun – and resonate with the Sherman’s mission to tell local stories with global resonance.
Vibrant, diverse, and joyful, Love, Cardiff serves as a timely reminder of why, on its golden anniversary, the Sherman Theatre shines brighter than ever.
Love Cardiff: 50 Years of Your Stories is playing at the Sherman Theatre on 17 and 19 August 2023. More information and how to book tickets here.