Category Archives: Theatre

Review Fear of Drowning Black Sheep Theatre Company by Corrinne Cox


Tensions run high in Black Sheep Theatre’s debut production Fear of Drowning at Chapter this week; it’s Elli and Steve’s wedding day, the bride has gone AWOL and Steve’s best mate Deano is waterboarding her brother Tim in the hotel bathroom.

After an initial flash-forward to Tim’s unfortunate predicament, the play begins with Elli and her brother, Harry Potter fanatic and ardent Environmental Warrior, Tim arriving in a budget hotel (whose lightbulbs we quickly learn do not meet international efficiency standards) having fled Elli’s imminent vows to possessive partner Steve.

Elli’s feeling out of her depth. Is marrying Steve a massive mistake or maybe commitment really is for her? To know for certain, she resolves the only solution is to go and see her ex, Ben, one last time. When Steve and Deano turn up, Tim is quick cover for Elli, resulting in a stake out in the hotel room where underlying class tensions come to a naturally humorous head.

Fear of commitment, possession and both the loss and perceived pejoration of identity through a new shared one are recurring themes throughout this eclectic piece of drama which is as funny as it is a clever statement on underlying class prejudice. There is a brilliant irony in Tim’s unshakeable belief that he is saving Elli from Steve’s possessive ways whilst simultaneously trying to shield her from the tragedies of Steve’s ‘type’, fuelled by an insurmountable fear of losing his sister that itself borders on obsession.

Through Tim’s sense of helplessness as he slowly loses his sister (and of course his very literal experience of being water-boarded by Deano); Elli’s uncertainty of the unknown and reluctance to take the plunge and commit to Steve and Deano’s evident feeling of treading water in a dead-end position where he is underpaid by his supposed best friend, the play is a perfectly realised metaphor of drowning which reflects the intricacies of each characters unique situation and lack of control.

When Steve abandons the others in a last-ditch attempt to pursue Elli we encounter what was undoubtedly the most surreal and wholly unanticipated scene of the play; Lee Mengo’s comically menacing portrayal of Deano lightly ridiculing Tim quickly escalating into a ketamine induced recollection of how he first met Elli aboard HMS Genesis a post-apocalyptic research ship on a Mission named Noah’s Ark… On Steve’s return, the continuation of this notion of being out of control, only this time in a very literal sense, escalates further still, manifesting itself in the pairs decision to waterboard Tim.

There is a slightly unsettling scene at the end with Tim in evident turmoil at the loss of his sister who despite everything decides that Steve is the one for her. Yet this is once again interrupted by more of the unexpected absurdity which made this play so enjoyable.

From Deano’s holographic memory, a ketamine riddled BLT and the moral conundrum of whether or not you can waterboard a trouser-less man, Black Sheep Theatre combine sharp wit with a stark and honest portrayal of class prejudices to produce a work well deserving of its place as Runner Up in the inaugural Wales Drama Award. Fear of Drowning is a credit to writer Paul Jenkins and Black Sheep Theatre and a sign of great things to come.

“It’s All About the Bus” 3rd Act Critic Leslie Herman Jones on Sherman 5 and access to drama.


(You know) It’s all about the bus…

When is a bus not a bus? When it’s a cycle bus or a walking bus. Please read on….

Guy O’Donnell coordinates Sherman 5 at the Sherman Theatre Cardiff. This Sherman 5 event supported a group of older people to see Happy Hour (written by Anita Vettesse; directed by Gethin Evans; and part of the Òran Mór series: A Play, A Pie and A Pint); and have a discussion afterwards.

When I pulled up on foot outside of The Sherman Theatre, I saw all these busses (as you do outside of a theatre on a performance day)…. and for some reason, this image resonated. I stored it away inside my writer’s brain, and went inside. And then I learned that when you join Sherman 5, and you book a ticket to see a range of the Sherman Theatre’s productions, you do not have to worry about getting there. Because (you know) it’s all about the bus, you can choose the Sherman 5 coach (which is a bus by another name), or you can choose the walking bus or a cycle bus.

I’d never heard of a walking bus or a cycle bus before now. Walking busses, I have since learned, operate for Sherman 5 family productions; and a lead cyclist will accompany audiences from the four Communities First areas of Cardiff to the theatre on Sherman 5 nights. That’s the Cycle bus. For further information, on this or any aspect of Sherman 5, please contact: –

Guy O’Donnell, Sherman 5 Coordinator, Sherman Cymru.
Tel 07703729079

Also steering this bus with Guy were Artistic Associate (and Happy Hour Director) Gethin Evans, and the Sherman’s Creative Learning Associate, Andrew Sterry.

This was an early matinee, 11am on a Thursday. That was just about the most perfect time for this event to occur. Five stars on timing, guys. And, instead of a pie and a pint, a cake and a cuppa were offered – very well received, thanks again!

As a dramatist, I can’t help but find symbolism in everyday occurrences, and like the busses, I knew that somehow the overturned milk jug during the interval would serve me. The play is about a dysfunctional family. ‘The family have gathered in the back room of the pub ready to scatter Dad’s ashes which currently reside in a Nike shoe box. But bitter resentments and long-held grudges might hinder Dad from resting in peace…’ Their ‘stuff’ (like the milk that accidentally spilt all over the Sherman foyer floor during the interval), spills across the pub floor in a tragic and hopeless way, as did the ashes in the penultimate scene….

The only ‘happy’ in this play was in its title. Happy Hour was not an easy play to watch; it left me feeling quite bereft. Personally, I am compelled to seek happy endings or at least a glimmer of hope in my own work; and I prefer to leave the theatre with some sense of promise so, when I asked on the day, I said I didn’t ‘like’ this play. But in retrospect, perhaps its dark rawness was its strength and perhaps it was necessary. (Perhaps Vitesse is writing a sequel? The characters were deep and full, and I was invested in their drama. I cared about them, and would like to know what has happened to them.)

I’d bet that the majority of older people in the audience, if not the world, can relate to family dysfunctionality in one way or another. By the time you’ve reached 50 it’s inescapable to have encountered it in one shape or form. And the discussion afterwards gave voice to their varied experiences. Respectfully, Andrew made the group aware that ‘the language of the Glasgow pub lives and breathes in the piece’. As the discussion again proved, there were not many in the group who hadn’t experienced vulgarity sometime or other in their lifetimes.


The post show discussion

The happiest part for me was observing an audience of older people at the theatre for a challenging production. The team had considered age and appropriateness, and deemed Happy Hour fit for purpose. They also considered all the logistics and variables to ensure the success of experience. The discussion was well-led by Andrew Sterry, who genuinely made everyone feel welcomed and valued; and the extra added bonus of the STAR Communities Volunteers on site offering hearing-aid testing was a stroke of genius.

Leslie Herman Jones
Third Act Critic
8 December 2015

Review Constellation Street The Other Room by Lois Arcari


A set of four intertwining monologues dividing tight – and tightly packed – spaces in a pub theatre tucked underneath the train stations – literally hidden gem.

Hardly a setup for convention.That, for the audience, is sublime.

The set design by the obviously talented Amy Jane Cook, catches you immediately, as you’re led through Constellation Street. The sets, three internal sets each toe the line between intimacy and claustrophobia just as the street itself does; a fifth character illuminated by its cast, the staging, and the experience theatre the play provides. The multiple sets were all done brilliantly but didn’t take the balance off the play itself. The outside platform fits perfectly; the noise of Cardiff against its backdrop illuminating rather than distracting; a brilliantly designed set up that draws subjective meaning without ever prompting it unsubtly.

This set up perfectly captures the mix of realism and delirium imbued in the play; the smallest pieces of the everyday evolving into a smooth hallucination between reality and melodrama. The play is flawlessly cast, each delivering their characters believably, and essentially, ambiguously. Each monologue in itself invites a wealth of interpretation, and the contradictions between them made for a more interesting whole; turning to pin point lies and honesty, or if indeed, they are even mutually exclusive at all. Distrust and uncertainty were the stars of the script, crawling under the skin the most effectively.

Tonally, the play was dark without nihilism, realism providing the comedy. Narratively, it could veer dangerously close to artifice; interweaving of monologues a little predictable at times, but with the cast and this experiential, experimental play nevertheless not straying from its basis in character, its brevity seemed at once a loss and a basis of its charms and wit. In its intimacy, the stories packed weight, but, because of its root in subjectivity were not always as deeply felt. We are dragged into the confusion, loss and grief of the characters, rooted in their street but projected through to any other. Although narratively slick, the close web of all the characters seemed to displace it from an every town, an idea the play needs to pack the punches it delivered, more lastingly for its audience.

One idea in particular, maybe from just seeing three of four monologues, was that one interesting idea seemed left to flounder. Parts were resonant, parts were shocking;but although technically brilliant, it never seemed to project itself onto the outside world. Perhaps, I must concede, the intention for us ‘invaders’ on the street.

It’s not that there was style over substance, but merely that the substance is felt harder to relate to in an outside context because of the stylistic excellence. As a piece of event theatre with the atmosphere of a clandestine treat, it is a must-see, but it’s genuine emotional resonance, or at least the extent of its power, is an ambiguous thing; as hard to track as the characters it writes of.

Review Constellation Street The Other Room by Kiera Sikora


Constellation Street; a place of conscience, cowardice, courage and heart-hurting honesty.

Firstly we meet Ruth (Nicola Reynolds) a brash and beautiful landlady with a lot to be said about good deeds, their punishments and the past they create. Set in her homely pub, she creates that warm atmosphere that lulls you to your local and before you’ve taken in her purge of emotions- she’s opened the door for you to leave her, silently.

But the night continues, we move on then for a brief song with Alex (Gwenllian Higginson) at a gig in what may well be the pub we’ve just left. Her wide eyed gazes and drunken antics on the stage make you laugh and wonder. She seems to think too much, yet little of herself.

Swiftly then we move into the humid hotel room where we are met with the seemingly sweet Stephen (Neal McWilliams). He’s awkward and intense, both distant and present. He doesn’t break his gaze. It’s almost like there’s nothing left in him to be broken, nothing more that he could break. You feel his pulse must match the pace of his speech as he punches your heart with his harrowing story of love, loss and loneliness.

We then head back outside to Alex and her cheap, cheap lager, and we listen to her as she lays her life’s bones bare in front of us. She’s like no one’s child, a girl with questions and no one around who’s patient enough to listen to them, until we’re there. Her actions don’t gain her the answers she was looking for, but they no doubt change and add to the questions she already has. That alone is something that connects these pieces and people together.

This play’s genius lies in its more than admirable attention to detail and how the writing doesn’t allow you to think that it’s ever been written. The emotions are raw and the situations so real it makes you think of the Constellation Street (or Streets) that exist outside of the intamcy of Porter’s.

It’s important to add here to that a fourth monologue exists in this play; Frank’s (Roger Evans) story completes Constellation Street.

The small space at The Other Room has been completely, wonderfully transformed, so that walking to the bar after the show feels a bit like a daze. Amy Jane Cook’s design is impeccable and deserves all compliments and more. As do the directors Chelsey Gillard and Dan Jones for collecting and connecting this puzzle of a play and completely utilising it’s uniqueness and relevance.

Review Constellation Street by Kaitlin Wray


Constellation Street written by Matthew Bulgo is a combination of four monologues that interlink with each other. Just like Matthew Bulgo’s ‘Last Christmas’ produced by Dirty Protest these stories are cleverly thought out and are both captivating and raw. For this production the team at the Other Room Theatre completely had their work cut out. For anyone who has already been to the Other Room Theatre they wouldn’t have thought it possible that a conventional theatre space could be turned into three separate rooms in completely different habitats. One a hotel room, another a back of the taxi cab and one a bar. What made this show even more unique was they used a part of the courtyard for the final scene. It all worked magnificently. There were some occasions when you could hear what is being said in the other spaces but it didn’t take away from the performance. This really showed the different dimensions of each monologue.

Not only did I get the chance to watch this incredible immersive performance, but I also had the privilege to overlook one of their rehearsals to get a feel of what it would be like directing a production. Watching Chelsey Gillard and Dan Jones at work, both of them taking two monologues each to work on, it was evident that their artistic minds knew exactly how to take on this performance and they both did tremendously. In this rehearsal, a week before the show, I had the chance to watch Nicola Reynolds performing the pub landlady. Even at this point in time she had the character pretty much nailed and it was wonderful to watch. Her mannerisms and the way she effortlessly told her story was endearing. I’m gutted that I didn’t get to see her perform in the actual show but it gives me another excuse to watch this show again!

The first room I went into was laid out as if we were in the back of a taxi cab. Roger Evans, playing Frank had his back to us for the majority of the performance with the front mirror showing his reflection. This made his performance even more realistic and raw which made this scene more emotional, it felt like you were there to really consolidate with the character. This is a great way to break away from traditional theatre settings and to show people that the character doesn’t always have to be on a stage speaking out to the audience.

Then our mini group got lead out into the courtyard for a musical interlude which was a rendition of “All I Want” by Kodaline, sung by Gwenllian Higginson. What once was a lovely lyrical song turned into quite an amusing karaoke bash. Even though it was just a musical interlude we really felt for Gwenllian’s character, and it gave us an insight of what might to come later with her performance.

The second monologue I saw was the character of Stephen played by Neal McWilliams. We entered into a room that looked like a generic hotel room with the classic painting on one of the walls. We were all told to sit down, get comfy and even sit on the bed. Personally this took me out of the mind frame of being an audience member and here to really listen to what’s being said and to give advice or help in any way. The monologue was, heart wrenching, it showed themes of betrayal and loss. Neal really took us through the characters life which started off quite pleasant but then turned as the story went on. It felt like he was completely reliving what had happened and the memories he has. By the end of it all I wanted to do was give him a great big hug.

The final scene took place in the courtyard with the character of Alex, played by Gwenllian Higginson. I already had the privilege to watch Gwenllian’s scene, and see a section of it being performed. However listening to it being doing outside it felt like it was the first time I was hearing the words again. Gwenllian, played Alex as a sassy girl who appears to be in control of everything, someone who has been through a lot. Her ability as an actress to show the different emotions she has with ease and convincingness was inspiring to watch. There were some real comedic elements to this monologue which she played with great timing and demeanour. It was tense and you were completely drawn in to everything she was saying. The only downside was that you could hear the Porter’s customers in the other section of the courtyard and due to it being a Friday night it was generally quite loud. However the one up side to this is that it felt like we were at a open mic night or at a stand up comedy where it would be loud. This I believe enhanced the intensity given to the scene.

Not only was the acting outstanding, but the whole company really went above and beyond in making this performance unique and memorable. Matthew Bulgo is a genius when it comes to writing original and amazing stories that really grip the hearts of audiences. The monologues interlinked beautifully. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it and would love to be taken on this journey again.

Review Richard Herring St David’s Hall, Cardiff


I must admit I knew very little about Richard Herring so didn’t know what to expect when attending his stand up show at St David’s Hall in Cardiff. Richard Herring is a 48 year old father and husband.

Herring begins his routine talking of the night his daughter was born and the hours afterwards seeing his wife in pain and giving birth. Herring does say that he doesn’t want to be one of the comedians that has just become a father and solely talks about that topic, however, this does form much of the material for the first half of the show. He does briefly talk about life pre marriage and the birth of his daughter which was funny and which was more relevant to my age group but on times was a little too explicit. However, the older members of the audience found it very funny especially on the topic of a possible affair with a life-like robot similar to that of Gemma Chan from ‘Humans’ at some point in the distant future.

In the second half of his show Herring moves away from family stories as he begins to think about the grammatical correctness of his mother in law’s door mat which welcomes people to their house with ‘Grand Children Spoilt Here’. His deconstructing of the lyrics of Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed was very well received with the audience. One feeling you really get from the show is that Richard Herring is extremely proud of his family and this is very much part of his act.

He confesses multiple times that his life has been totally focused on his career and since having a wife and child his priorities have changed and questions how we as adults can reach pure happiness like that felt by a child and whether it is even achievable at all. He also talks about how at the time of the moment of pure happiness we are too busy thinking about what could go wrong rather than really thinking about how important this moment is. Herring tells a story of how a three year old child walking on a beach in a hot country eating a Cornetto is as good as it can get for them at that moment and yet within a matter of hours they will forget the experience and may never feel that happiness again. All very philosophical!

When considering Herring’s performance and routine one can easily describe him as delivering comedy that makes his audience laugh out loud as well as ponder life’s big questions. Herring also talks about how he may not be as famous such as his friend Steve Coogan but seems very happy with his lot. It does encourage you to reflect no matter who we are or how successful we become there is always going to be someone doing that bit better than you and it is also important to remember that there may well be others looking up at you.

This show is not going to leave you with an aching stomach from laughing but will leave you with a smile on your face and a greater sense of appreciation for the smaller things in life that you may well have taken for granted before.


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Hogia Ni: Yma o Hyd (Our Boys: Still Here)
A review from a 3rd Act Critic
It is powerful stuff. 2 men, 1 woman sitting on crates against a screen, like three wise monkeys in black and khaki. This is going to be a neat, clever, visually adept production. I am not wrong.
They are back from Afghanistan in a pub in Caernarfon; they are in Afghanistan. Their language changes, their behaviours change and the screen goes from dusty blue to sunset desert scenes behind them. It is so simple and so clever; and so effective.
They reluctantly share their experiences both at war and at home; and their emotions spill out into tears and aggression and strange army humour. The audience tentatively laughs with Iwan at Telor’s mistakes, ‘Hedd Wyn, the Welsh war poet’ from Trawsfynydd, not ‘Eifion Wyn’, a poet from Caernarfon. Hedd Wyn, his bardic name, means ‘Blessed Peace.’
But there is a problem for me. I can hear swearing, guttural and harsh and entirely appropriate. I can hear conversations in English and Welsh. I don’t speak Welsh but I can follow much of the action easily. I am using Sibrwd – a translation app; it allows me to read or hear the play in English and I have chosen to read what I think will be the lines of the play. It is not. It is a mixture of précis and quotations and description. I hear ‘fucking soldiers’ and I see, ‘Iwan is struggling with his return from Afghanistan’ or something very similar. Interpretation and translation. I am being told what to think.
Many of the lines are superb: ‘terrorists don’t fight for a country’, ‘Talibans don’t come into Caernarfon and piss on our statues and shag your girl’, ‘never tell your girlfriend or your wife that you are enjoying yourself’.
War is, they say, ‘bananas’ but it is enjoyable – it is a buzz, an excitement, a sense of worth and purpose for these fucking soldiers. Without it, they are lost, dangerous and confused.
This is a timely, impressive and well-written tale; acted with strength, assurance and conviction. I believe every one of them. I do not feel sorry for them but I wish them well.
Gwae fi fy myw mewn oes mor ddreng,
A Duw ar drai ar orwel pell;
O’i ôl mae dyn, yn deyrn a gwreng,
Yn codi ei awdurdod hell.
Pan deimlodd fyned ymaith Dduw
Cyfododd gledd i ladd ei frawd;
Mae sŵn yr ymladd ar ein clyw,
A’i gysgod ar fythynnod tlawd.
Mae’r hen delynau genid gynt,
Ynghrog ar gangau’r helyg draw,
A gwaedd y bechgyn lond y gwynt,
A’u gwaed yn gymysg efo’r glaw
Why must I live in this grim age,
When, to a far horizon, God
Has ebbed away, and man, with rage,
Now wields the sceptre and the rod?
Man raised his sword, once God had gone,
To slay his brother, and the roar
Of battlefields now casts upon
Our homes the shadow of the war.
The harps to which we sang are hung,
On willow boughs, and their refrain
Drowned by the anguish of the young
Whose blood is mingled with the rain.
Event: Hogia Ni
At: Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
Playwright: Meic Povey
Director: Betsan Llwyd
Producer: Theatr Bara Caws
Seen: 8pm, 24 March, 2016 (last night)
Reviewer: Helen Joy for 3rd Act Critics
Running: 22 March – 24 March, 2016
Performers: Lance Sargeant Iwan Jones Owen Arwyn
Sergeant Diane Taylor Manon Wilkinson
Guardsman Telor Roberts Gwlon Aled

Review Only The Brave Wales Millennium Centre by James Briggs


Only the Brave is the first home-produced full musical from the Wales Millennium Centre with Soho Theatre, Daniel Sparrow Productions & Birdsong Productions. The production is an emotional portrayal of the hardship and suffering felt by the soldiers and their families during the Second World War. The story behind the musical was utterly compelling and is based on a true account, that of Captain John Howard his wife Joy, and his friend and colleague Lieutenant Denholm Brotheridge and wife-to-be Maggie and the company who went with him during June 1944, to capture the famous Pegasus Bridge to allow British forces to cross into France once they had landed.

Only The Brave

I have been fortunate enough to visit Normandy a number of times and have seen all of the landing sights and War cemeteries left from the Normandy landings. When visiting these places it can be very emotional but you don’t really feel a connection with the graves or the people who fought and died there. This musical however brings to life the people involved and allows the audience to really feel what it would have been like for the soldiers as they flew over to France to fight the enemy. So much so there were many moments during the musical where I would forget I was in a theatre and instead in a cinema watching a movie.

Only The Brave

The characters are wonderfully written and show the hope and anxiety during the time of war. The production had many heart-in-mouth moments and tissues are essential as there are endless eyes being rubbed throughout the auditorium. Especially when one of the soldiers Wally Parr delivered his speech about the Nazi’s simply having ‘Different shirts, same heartbeat underneath,’ Another reason behind the tears flowing is of course in part because of the music composed by the brilliant Matthew Brind, who’s musical ability is second to none and has produced a simply outstanding score, with poignant songs that also have a relevance to the current events in today’s world. Some of the songs included ‘Band of Brothers,’ ‘Regret and Sympathy’ and especially ‘Only The Brave,’ which simply made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The mix of the performer’s voices was champagne casting and worked extremely well together.

Portraying war and fighting on stage is never easy and can sometimes look obviously pretend, however, Only The Brave was outstanding. The inclusion of pyrotechnics for the explosions was brilliant and kept the audience on the edge of their seat. The make-up was also very effective with the use of stage blood that gave the audience a further insight into the reality of war.

Only The Brave

Only The Brave was a truly prodigious, outstanding musical and a pleasure to watch. The whole team behind Only The Brave have created an audacious and aspiring production with an amazing cast including the fantastic David Thaxton and Caroline Sheen who played their characters really very well. This show is destined to do well and is a must-see with a story that is so very important and should always be remembered. The inclusion also of the real War veteran Peter Davies as John Howard (Senior) was a lovely touch and felt very fitting. A really powerful show that should be watched by all and one which I believe is destined for the West End.

Only The Brave is currently showing at the Wales Millennium Centre until Saturday 02 Apr 16 and is simply a must-see for all!

Review Play/Silence by Kaitlin Wray

The Other Room Theatre kicking of 2016 with their new season of Insomnia, brings us a double bill of both Beckett and Pinter’s work. These 20th century play writes were considered to be two of the most influential writers of their time.
The plays chosen were ‘Play’ by Beckett and ‘Silence’ by Pinter. Both plays draws themes around betrayal and lust. Both Kate Wasserburg, (director of ‘Play’ and Artistic Director of the Other Room) and Titas Halder, (director of ‘Silence’) made sure these plays were not only performed with great distinction but showed great technicality as well.
Stepping into the first performance of the Other Room theatre there was soundscape in the background (composed and sound designed by Dyfan Jones) creating the mood that was hardly noticed at first but grew louder and louder until everyone was completely engaged and then it just cut out. A deathly silence where the audience was left in the pitch black, all senses removed, waiting in suspense. This was the first moment that completely drew me in to the performance, this moment never left me until I was ushered out of my seat. I was in complete awe at what I had just seen.
Floating heads on stage, muttering things one couldn’t comprehend, the imagery in this was beautiful. Then controlled by a single spotlight it shone to the character speaking at the time with everything else surrounded in blackness. This technically was beautiful as we were transfixed on what was being shown. It felt like you were at a tennis match where you kept moving your head to the next performance not wanting to blink in case you missed the next moment.
The performers were incredible, their focused stare and fast paced speaking with hardly pausing was a treat to see. It was evident that they had complete dedication to this performance as their pronunciation was spot on even though the pace was remarkably difficult. The trio of performers even though speaking in quite a monotonous way showed great characterisation and we could fully get a sense of each personality.
After only knowing Matthew Bulgo through his great work as a playwright creating ‘Last Christmas’ his acting ability corresponded to the success of his play. Acting alongside him was Victoria John who showed comedy within this play and who’s laugh has to be up there with the greatest of evil laughs. Then Peta Cornish who captivated us with the use of her eyes and her elegant speaking voice.
This was a performance that frazzled my mind yet I would want to see it again and again just to get another glimpse into those lives.
The second performance, Pinter’s ‘Silence’ was technically less demanding but nonetheless just as beautiful, the simplistic set worked really well and it felt like the actors were in another dimension. What I noticed most of all was their use of spatial awareness, when one person moved to a different spot, the others would change their position so it always looked aesthetically pleasing to the eye. This was well thought out and blocked out. Their acting was equally brilliant with Matthew Bulgo playing Rumsey, showing us a more desperate side than the comical side we saw earlier, Peta Cornish playing Ellen uses her eyes as an emotive tool which was something I haven’t seen in a long time in a performance, truly remarkable. Then, Neal McWilliams playing Bates. Neal played a character who had a boyish charm that really put extra depth into this performance and made it stand out so much more. Each performer showed us what it felt like to be in desperation of love and hope, to have such strong feelings and the want to connect with one another.
This double bill was a great way to step out from the outer world into something much deeper. This is a performance that makes you feel something you definitely didn’t feel before entering the room. As an actor myself these plays are something every actor dreams to play, the way they are technically demanding for the voice and how you have to be completely disciplined with your whole body making sure you know every tiny movement you make will have great impact on the performance. I thoroughly enjoyed the night and can not wait to watch the Other Rooms next performance of ‘Sand’ by Nick Gill.

Review Tom The Musical by James Briggs

Tom1A thrilling new musical has hit Cardiff Bay this week in the form of Tom Jones: The Musical. Presented by Theatr na nÓg/TNN and performed at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff. It is long overdue that the pop sensation from Treforest, South Wales gets the ultimate honour of a show telling his story. As I was born in the 90’s it was only as I got older that I began to find out about Tom Jones and his wonderful music. As a young boy I would always hear his music playing on my mothers CD player (she is quite the fan!). When attending the musical I was well aware of his best hits but not so sure about his story and how he rose to fame. I must say the opening to the musical came as a surprise when the Narrator said “There’s not a bar he didn’t walk into or a chip shop window he wasn’t pushed through,” which I must say came as quite a shock. As Tom Jones’ story began to unwind in front of the audience we saw him at a young age already in good voice but working in a paper mill. He strived to be just as good as his father and provide for his family. The progression from this young boy to the superstar he is now was really something to be admired.

Tom the Musical Gordon Mills

The musical focuses on the early years of Tom Jones’ life. The star of the show is Kit Orton who plays the teenage Tommy Woodward later to become Jones. We see the relationship blossoming between Tommy and his girlfriend Linda, whom he married and had a child with at the age of just 16. We see the early gigs with his band The Senators in Welsh valley’s working men’s clubs and the regular occurrence of local raffles offering a 12lb turkey as the main prize.

Tom 2

Kit Orton has too been given a fantastic voice of his own. However many attending the show including myself were going with Tom Jones’ voice in mind for the most famous songs and so it took some adjusting but by the end of the show the audience are up dancing and singing with him, as though Orton was actually Tom Jones. Those early years didn’t feature Tom Jones’ most memorable hits, but Orton was able to deliver plenty of toe tapping covers from the swinging sixties. There was even a very brief blast from The Kinks with ‘You Really Got Me’ showcasing the excellent talent of the on stage band.

As good as the show was there was a part of me left feeling the first act of the musical seemed a little slow. I think that an inclusion of some of Jones’ famous hits could have been used to help tell the story a little better. Many of the first act featured music composed by other musicians opposed to the hits of Tom Jones and so left the audience wanting to hear more of Tom Jones’ songs opposed to covers. There was also the inclusion of the struggles with Tom Jones’ then manager Gordon Mills and him almost going bankrupt to make Tom Jones a star.


It was the end of the show that really got the audience going. Suddenly the staging changed from a set representing Tom Jones as he was much younger to how a concert would look today. A large rig lowered on stage full of lights and the party really began! The finale was a medley of Tom’s hits which instantly got loud cheers and applause from the packed audience. The auditorium changed from theatre to pop concert with everyone up dancing and singing. Favourite’s for many in the audience definitely seemed to be ‘Delilah’ and ‘What’s New Pussycat’. With the show ending on a standing ovation you could tell the musical was a hit, and it most definitely was. However I can’t help but feel if there had been more inclusion of Jones’ hits during the production the audience would have been even more impressed. There are no boots bigger to fill than that of Tom Jones’ his booming voice is most definitely a one off but Kit Orton does a wonderful job. This is most definitely the musical for any Tom Jones fan but more so if you would like to find out the story of how he rose to fame.

Tom: A Story of Tom Jones The Musical is currently showing in the Wales Millennium Centre until the 12th March 2016 and then tours the UK.