Category Archives: Theatre

Review Play/Silence by Caitlin Finn

Silence - Peta Cornish, Neal McWilliams, Matthew  Bulgo

I recently went to The Other Room Theatre based in Porter’s, Cardiff to see Play by Samuel Beckett and Silence by Harold Pinter, a breathtaking double-bill. The venue itself was very quirky, it almost felt like a step back in time to a medieval era yet it still felt modern and kind of had a tumblr aspect. The venue felt very exclusive with The Other Room being like a secret part of Porter’s.


As soon as you enter the auditorium the scene is set with a dark, eerie atmosphere with the room slowly filling with a haunting smoke. There was also some darkly enchanting music by composition and sound designer Dyfan Jones to set the mood for the show to commence. The show itself was a simple setup as you can see in the image below.

Play - Victoria John, Matthew Bulgo, Peta Cornish 1

It was fast-paced and I found it very immersive. As simple as the setup was it was very effective. It had a humorous tone to it which lightened the tone just enough. The play had slight repetition to it which can almost make you question your own state of mind and definitely made you stop and think.


This was for sure my favourite of the two, with it taking a more traditional stage presence with the actors being free to move among the stage. When you walk in the setting is much brighter than that of the previous play, yet it still leaves a mysterious and almost gloomy effect for the audience, leaving you anticipating what’s to come in the following performance.

Silence - Matthew Bulgo, Peta Cornish, Neal  McWilliams

The production itself was minimalistic and the majority of the dialogue was a single narrative which made it feel as though the character was speaking directly to you, making you feel like part of the scene. When the characters did interact with each other their dialogue and movements on stage flowed into doing so with a seamless elegance. I found that the play had the effect of a calming plea of insanity and love and was executed beautifully.

Cast & Creatives

W2 (Play) Victoria John
W1 (Play) / Ellen (Silence) Peta Cornish
M (Play) / Rumsey (Silence) Matthew Bulgo
Bates (Silence) Neal McWilliams
Director (Play) Kate Wasserberg
Director (Silence) Titas Halder
Designer Amy Jane Cook
Stage Manager Steffi Pickering
Lighting Designer Katy Morison
Composition and Sound Design Dyfan Jones
Assistant Director Izzy Rabey

Images courtesy of Pallasca Photography


Review Play/Silence The Other Room by Kaitlin Wray


Silence - Matthew Bulgo, Peta Cornish, Neal McWilliams  2

The Other Room Theatre kick of 2016 with their new season ‘Insomnia,’ bringing us a double bill of both Beckett and Pinter’s work. These 20th century playwrights are considered to be two of the most influential dramatists of all time.

The plays ‘Play’ by Beckett and ‘Silence’ by Pinter, both draw on themes around betrayal and lust. Both Kate Wasserberg, (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 also showed great technical accomplishment.

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 onto 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 they were 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 on ‘Last Christmas’ for Dirty Protest, 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 through and blocked. The performers acting was equally accomplished 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 cant wait to watch the Other Rooms next performance of ‘Sand’ by Nick Gill.

Photographic credit Pallasca Photography


Review Play/Silence The Other Room by Kiera Sikora


It’s not often you get to say that you’ve seen both a Beckett and a Pinter play in one night, in an hour in fact. But The Other Room at Porter’s, yet again, delivers for it’s audiences a night of theatre that affects you and lets you indulge in it’s rarity.

‘Play’ begins, with whispers and hiccups from the faces in the glittering urns, designed wonderfully by (Amy Jane Cook). With the yellowish glow of rapid spotlights we hear the intricate thoughts of the man, the mistress and the wife. The hiccups, the pauses the whispers and the humour all a collection of brutally honest thoughts, each monologue justified by the other person’s words. On the left hand side we have W2, the wife of the man, played by Victoria John and next to her we have the Man in the middle (quite literally) played by Matthew Bulgo and to his right, W1, Peta Cornish, playing the mistress.

Play  - Victoria John, Matthew Bulgo, Peta Cornish 2

We race through the interior monologues, each contribution giving more than just verbal circumstance. We see what one could believe to be martial unhappiness mixed with a sense of neglect, regret and direct bitterness cleverly composed using just a few base notes and the odd pause, disguised as a ‘pardon’. The repetition in the piece doesn’t annoy, it’s evokes a different sense, a sense of memory. You feel comfortable enough to react but the lack of an entrance or exit reminds you that this is not a place to get comfortable in. To be alive in a funeral urn and only allowed to speak when the moonlight-like spotlight chooses you, in a place where you can’t imagine daylight- who knew it could be so comic?

After a short interval, one I wish hadn’t had to have taken place, we move on to ‘Silence’. A play that marked a change for Pinter, and certainly marks a change in this double bill. The actors are present on a well lit stage, looking lost in thought in a simple set of wooden side walls and a blank dim square at the back of the stage, representing a window.

Silence - Peta Cornish, Neal McWilliams, Matthew  Bulgo

Like ‘Play’, we are met by three characters, each sharing the space and look of nostalgia, and then Rumsey speaks. The interior monologue begins, this time casually, with a hopeless honesty exploring ‘the fleeting nature of love’ and the isolating recalling from what I gather to be different periods of time. Rumsey, played beautifully by Matthew Bulgo, poetically recalls his thoughts and ends as he begins, lonely and living from his past. Bulgo’s delivery of Rumsey’s first line is wonderfully ideal. We also meet The gentle Ellen played by Peta Cornish, who is this time, the lady in the middle. The middle of what is something that’s not completely clear from the text but as the monologues unfold we see the pasts of both these characters merge. We also meet Bates played by Neal McWilliams, a man who doesn’t share Rumsey’s soft tones but does share his interest in Ellen. He is the man Ellen had to choose after being rejected by Rumsey and ultimately, she loses loses him too, this time by choice, and they all have to live from within their memories and wonder what could’ve been, had life played out their ideal.

Both plays speak volumes and allow us as the audience to make sense of them, if we so wish. The directors Kate Wasserberg (Play) and Titas Halder (Silence), along with the entire cast and crew deserve multiple applause for attacking two brilliant plays and creating another fantastic night of insightful theatre.

Play/Silence runs at The Other Room at Porter’s until February 5th. It’s an unmissable double bill of the exact type of theatre we need. Go see, you won’t regret it!

Photographic credit Pallasca Photography

[vimeo 152270795 w=500 h=281]
<p><a href=”″>Play/Silence – a Beckett/Pinter double bill</a> from <a href=””>TudorFilms</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a>.</p>

Review Jo Fong: An Invitation… by Renn Hubbuck



I opened the door to the dance hall at Chapter Arts Centre, lots of unknown faces turned their heads and peered at me. There were two long rows of chairs facing each other with an aisle running down the middle. The one woman who was standing said ‘hello’ and I quickly chucked my bag on the floor and placed myself onto an empty seat. The standing woman faced away from me and carried on with her performance, if she had ever stopped. I had no idea what to expect but I was certainly intrigued.

The woman was attempting to dance. I say attempting because she would interrupt her movements, stop herself and start again, trying to achieve something, I wasn’t quite sure what, commenting on what she was doing all the while. It was unclear whether I was watching a wholly scripted piece or a workshop for dancers which was more spontaneous and organic. This blurring between reality and performance was clearly a theme they were playing around with. Comedy was created through her almost childlike frustration at the inability to fully let go. The audience was kept in suspense as we waited for the dance to flow.

‘Maybe you could do it like this’ piped up someone from the other side of the room. Jo Fong stepped into the space. Her energy was immediately captivating. Fong talked a lot about her energy, expressing how she was bringing it into the room and giving it to the audience. There was definitely a sense of the performer enthusing the audience; her movements were big and bold, she had something inside her which didn’t know how to get out. Again, there was that tension. It seems to be a comment on how people struggle to give in to their emotions, stopping themselves from being totally free. Fong at one point did this sporadic movement with her arm which she called the ‘contemporary arm’, stating it ‘wants to express itself.’ There was a battle for control over the body, limbs did not perform as wanted and had a mind of their own.

After advising the first performer on how she should move, a third dancer, Beth Powlesand, came up and took to the floor. They all seemed very natural in the space, making the most of the strip between the rows of chairs. The further it went on, the more I realised how much of it was staged, which didn’t diminish the piece as we were supposed to be aware of its constructed nature.

There was a key element which really made it a unique and original experience; the audience. The show was shaped by the audience as the performers were continuously responding to the people watching, to the energy of the room and incorporating it into the performance.

As people started to understand what the show was about and got more relaxed, there was a change in the power dynamic. One audience member controlled Powlesand like a puppet on a string, the dancer imitating her as she freely moved her arms. It was a fascinating development because we were no longer just watching the show, we were a fully-functioning part in it. I’ve always been very interested in audience interaction and the relationship between performer and viewer and the show explored this wonderfully. Laura Lee Greenhalgh, the woman who said hello to me at the beginning, noticed I was furiously writing notes and commented on it; she looked down at the paper and read aloud ‘who is the leader? Who is being lead?’ It seemed to create a strange electric current between her and Powlesand, who were mirroring each other, and they rapidly danced down the room together as though fired up by the observation.

Near the end of the show, Powlesland invited people to get up off their seats and follow her movements, they were now the puppets. Quite a few practically leapt out of their chairs and joined in with enthusiasm. Yet, I think one of the most memorable moments was when Fong said ‘do you think I’m going to sit on a chair and do nothing like you?’ and proceeded to give the most emotionally charged performance of the evening. Her movements became more aggressive and the tension that had been building up throughout finally came to a head. She shouted ‘I just want to get this out of my body!’ with an intensity that resonated. It’s the sort of frustration I think everyone can relate to; this sense of being trapped or being unable to feel totally uninhibited. It’s felt honest and that’s why it stuck with me.

The concept of the show for me was about breaking down barriers, not just between performer and audience but internal barriers too. It’s about trying to fully experience an emotion and letting it flow through your body without fear. However, there’s a conflict there because can you really achieve this if your are performing? It would interesting to ask Jo Fong and the other dancers whether they think they have ever had a moment of pure release while doing the show. We are constantly reminded that what we are watching is a construct while are also actively participating in forming the performance. Without the audience, the piece would not have been what it was but it can also adapt to whoever is watching. Thus we all become performers and like the three dancers, we are all in pursuit of freedom.


Review Priscilla Queen of the Desert by Tanisha Fair


I recently attended a performance of Priscilla the Queen of the Desert at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff and I thought it was incredible!

The lead role was played by the brilliantly talented Jason Donovan as the character of Mitzi and I was slightly apprehensive at first as I was not sure how he was going to portray a convincing drag queen, but gosh was I wrong! He gave a wonderfully touching and convincing performance. I also absolutely fell in love with Bernadette played by the lovely Simon Green. His performance helped melt everyone’s hearts when he sang his rendition of  ‘True Colours’. I also wanted to mention the amazing amount of sass from the extremely talented Adam Bailey as the character of Felicia. His character was nothing but flawless and I think most probably gave a lot of the audience dance envy from his triple threat talents.

The backing trio of singers had the voices of angels providing the backing for every song in the musical. It truly made the performance spectacular, especially from the moment the orchestra starts playing with a beaming disco ball and lively music which sets you back into the 90’s with upbeat tunes that will get you moving in your seats. The costumes are incredible and outrageous and if you love drag queens I think you might be slightly jealous of some of these very unique, to say the least, costumes.

gumbys in line_5838827

This production is by far the best I have seen in a while as you cannot stop smiling throughout the show. There were moments that I found it very difficult to stay still in my seat, it really made me want to put on a pair of ridiculously high sparkly heels and get up on stage with the cast. All in all I completely and utterly fell in love with them and wished they were my friends. It’s energetic and fantastic fun. This production is definitely one to go and watch. It’s an absolute party from start to finish. It truly does take you on an emotional journey. The productions storyline not only makes you laugh but allows you to understand some of the pains that these characters went through to continue to do want they were born to do. I think this gives us all the message of how no matter how difficult the dream is or how long it takes you to reach it, you should never give up.

A truly inspiring performance from the whole cast and crew the amount of work that has been put into to this production means I thought it was utterly brilliant!

2015 Personal highlights from the Young Critics & 3rd Act Critics


2015 New Year celebration with the date outlined by colourful fiery sparklers on a dark New Year's Eve night


Members of the Young Critics and 3rd Act Critics have selected their own personal highlights of 2015. Their first choice is that a cultural event they have reviewed or attended. Their second is something they have personally experienced which has resonance for them as an individual.

 Young Critic Lois Arcari

2015 is, like all other years, impossible to forget for many reasons. One such reason was an amazing blur, both individually and for the Young Critics as a whole – the celebration of Welsh talent and its abilities at the annual BAFTA Cymru awards. For a review and as a day, what was daunting turned easily to something wonderful, truly hopeful and encouraging for a defiantly blossoming industry in the face of cuts to the arts and critics of its worth. An event that continues developing to give Wales international renown. This day was both an honour, and a joy to be part of.

My personal pick of this year is something as much as a cultural event, platform for debate, national icon and builder of careers and friendships alike as it is a show – the incomparable Doctor Who. In light of criticisms thrown at showrunner Steven Moffat for a number of years now, this season has episodes widely regarded as some of the most experimental, diverse and emotional at least post revival. Whilst I was worried at the apparent superficiality of this choice – Doctor Who is iconic for a reason. Not least this past season because of the sensational acting masterclass in acting from Peter Capaldi, and Jeanna Coleman. Coleman has laid claim to being a divisive character, but personally I think her performance is one of the most raw, layered and deftly handled in the show’s history, especially when coupled with Moffat’s no holds barred approach. Though missteps were made, they were made in interesting ways. The Doctor, expertly handled, has always been a personal character – an icon of unflinching hope and possibility that even helped through uncertainty and anxieties through eager viewing last year following a serious car accident. Seeing the characters, writing and ambition grow in tandem has been moving and joyous, and the many layers encouraging fans to analyse, speculate, and always, always hope. As the show-runners (as a brilliant personal meeting at the aforementioned BAFTA Cymru awards with Russel T Davies showed) did with the same love.


3rd Act Critic Barbara Michaels

My first choice would have to be Mack and Mabel at WMC. The production was brilliant on all fronts, Barbara reviewed this production for The Reviews Hub

Mack and Mabel – Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Secondly my personal choice is Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake with male dancers as the swans.  A new take in one of the most popular classical ballets and spine tingling.


Young Critic James Briggs

For my choice of 2015 I would like to say Jersey Boys at the Wales Millennium Centre because this was the first production that I reviewed for Young Critics and so if I had not chosen to attend that show I would not have been so involved with Young Critics this year.

Review Jersey Boys, WMC by James Briggs

For my second choice of 2015 I would like to say the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular that was at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena back in May this year.

This is a review by Wales Online about the show


Young Critic Kiera Sikora

I would definitely say my favourite production which I reviewed in 2015 was Alix in Wundergarten- Difficult Stage/Other Room

My second choice would be A Doll’s House- Sherman Cymru a relevant retelling of a theatrical classic!


Young Critic Amina Ali

My first choice would be the TV series Agent Carter

My second choice would be the Black Lives matter movement. I feel it’s important because as a black person the miscarriages of justice are almost personal. It is important to know that there are people standing up for people like me.

Young Critic Sian Thomas

My first choice would be the book Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton, I feel I wrote my review well and there was to my surprise online interaction with the author and her publisher on Twitter. I know someone also bought it as a consequence of my review which I thought was amazing!


My second would be the release of the World of Professor Layton which is a big art book about my favourite ever game that came out around November 5th and I really enjoyed and felt the closure of the series ending personally.


Young Critic Bethan Hooton

My number one event of the year would have to be the One Direction concert – seeing your favourite band live is something you will never forget!

My second choice would be getting my GCSE results – 2 Cs, 7Bs, A, A* . I was so proud of myself for these grades, and I got into college with them to study subjects that I now really enjoy and love.


We are all looking forward to what 2016 will bring!







Review Scrambled Stories, UWTSD by Kiera Sikora

FullSizeRender (6)

Images  by Jennie Caldwell.

At the Halliwell Theatre in Carmarthen tonight I and many others were treated to some magically, musical, modernised, mashed up versions of our best loved fairy tales. Cleverly concocted by James Scannell and performed by BA3 Acting and Design & Production students from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen. The production had a very cheeky guilty pleasure playlist and some wonderful Welsh wit, the telling of many tales begins and we are immediately thrown into the magical world of make-believe.

We race through the rhymes, from Cinderella (Emma Davies) to Snow White (Suzy Hambrige), The Three Little Pigs to Goldilocks (Alex Delaney) and Jack and the Beanstalk to Little Red Riding Hood (Hannah Gray). With some hilarious narration from our constant comic, Jack, (Ryan Edmunds) who’s own story is told later too, and as well as being the Evil Queen’s (Rebecca Hazzleton) most hysterically blunt magic mirror, he also keeps us up to date with where we’re off to next in this scrambled world of magical mayhem.

FullSizeRender (4)

In Cinderella’s world we meet a very proper yet fairly pompous Prince Charming (Thomas Halkes) who is much more suited to Cinder’s ugly sisters, and so the lovable Buttons (Abbie Edwards) is finally given his perfect happy ending. From there we’re taken to Snow White’s world where the magic mirror gets a promotion and the huntsman becomes a hero, and in a bright flash we find ourselves the cosy home of The Three Little Bear’s. Here baby bear’s a Bieber fan and guilty Goldilocks gets taken to court, which is where we aptly learn the moral of the story. And of course, a fairy-tale farce is never complete without a little rendezvous into the woods! Here we find our favourite Grandma, (Jessica Kabesh) who’s got some dangerously good dance moves and an admirable love for Mars Bars. She’s waiting for her Little Red Riding Hood (Hannah Gray), who may well have just caught the last train back from Barry, to deliver her Grandma her favourite treats only to be met by the wicked wolf, who doesn’t stand a chance against Little Red and her Judo skills. But last but not least we are met with Jack, his ex-wrestler mother, his cow and his beanstalk. I’d say you know how the story goes but not this time, Jack’s mother tackles the giant (wonderfully voiced by none other than Dave Ainsworth) and all is well again in the world of scrambled stories. Oh and did I mention the Three Little Pigs are in this piece too? They forgot to get planning permission for their houses and so the vegetarian wolf (who, funnily enough, used to baby sit them) has had to pop over and remind them how important it is to ‘always ask first’.

This impressively energetic and wonderfully manic piece of magical comedy is a perfect treat to see for all ages. There’s rewritten pop songs, hysterical dance routines, a contagious energy from start to finish and a whole lot of laughter- a perfect pick-me-up performance and a wonderfully panto-esque affair! 

The tour ends in Laugharne on Friday 11th December after touring to Devon and in and around Wales.
Directed by James Scannell and produced by UWTSD School of Performing Arts.
Stage Manager: Lucie Mitchell
Sound and Lighting: Connor Manning

Review Shrek, WMC by James Briggs


You know something special must be in town when the outside and interior of the Wales Millennium Centre is lit up luminous green. I must admit I was a little apprehensive that I would not enjoy the show and it would be something more suitable for younger children opposed to teenagers but I could not have been more wrong!

The show began with a voice over giving the usual warning to the audience regarding mobile phones but this warning certainly came with an unusual outcome!  The penalty being an ogre breaking wind in your face. It was from this you were able to get a pretty good feel of what you were in for with this musical.

Shrek The Musical is based on the Dreamworks animated film, and takes the audience on a magical and fun adventure with Shrek and his trusty companion Donkey who set off on a quest to rescue Princess Fiona. Their intention is to take her to the evil Lord Farquaad who intends to marry her so he can claim his rightful place on the throne.

Shrek the Musical UK Tour
Shrek the Musical UK Tour

The stage production very cleverly captures everything that was loved about the film. Ranging from the fairy-tale characters, like the gingerbread man who cringes at the thought of losing any of his gumdrop buttons to Peter Pan who is described in the show as being ‘a 30 year old who is in need of a shave’.

It was obvious that Gerard Carey stole the show as the strangely short Lord Farquaad, who had the audience laughing all night as he scuttled around the stage and repeatedly spread his legs, not to mention his entrance song ‘What’s Up, Duloc’ when he was sitting on top of his castle crossing his small legs.

It would be wrong, of course, not to mention the equally brilliant Shrek and Fiona. Shrek is played by Dean Chisnall who brings the well-loved character to life and his voice is so distinctive as that in the film. Fiona is played by the brilliant Bronte Barbe who shot to fame when she competed in the critically exclaimed Andrew Lloyd Webber search for the next Dorothy in ‘Over The Rainbow’. The complimentary pairing of these two characters reaches a whole new level when they sing the song ‘I think I got you beat’, the song is a sing off between them where they battle to prove who has had the worst upbringing before taking it to a whole new level with a competition of who is best at burping and passing wind. It also oddly becomes clear they are made for each other and should be together.

Shrek the Musical UK Tour
Shrek the Musical UK Tour

Another magical pairing in the show is Donkey and the Dragon. The Donkey is played by Idriss Kargbo who did a wonderful job and brought the playfulness and energy that Eddie Murphy brought in the film. Eddie Murphy is an extremely hard act to follow but Idriss Kargbo does it wonderfully. One of the big differences between film and stage is the lack of animation available and so for the show the Dragon was brought to life in the form of a gigantic puppet controlled by four puppeteers. The voice of the Dragon was provided by Candace Furbert who brought an amazing Gospel and Motown feel to the Dragon. The blend between actress off stage and the Dragon onstage was seamless making the audience feel the Dragon was alive and with them in the theatre.

Shrek the Musical

The show is wonderfully written and performed and crammed packed full of great jokes and innuendo that passes right over the heads of younger audience members. A must see Musical that is fun for all the family. Hurry up down to the Wales Millennium Centre because I guarantee you will be left shouting at the end “I am a believer!”.

Shrek The Musical runs at Wales Millennium Centre until Sunday the 10th of January 2016. Tickets can be purchased online at the Wales Millennium Centre website.

Review Alix in Wundergarten, The Other Room By Kiera Sikora


The Other Room at Porter’s is currently home to a ridiculously funny, curiously clever and oddly insightful alternative Christmas ‘play’ at the moment- the quotations marks are necessary, I promise.

The audience are warmly welcomed through the brightly lit radio studio (Paul Towson) via a door made from a deck chair, a small path made from gravel and what could be squeaky dog toys, where we are met by the newly assembled actors for their first read through of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Their director Fabian (François Pandolfo) is very quickly driven slightly mad by the actors, with Nick (Richard Elfyn) as the prime culprit for madness as he throws his knowledge, experience and insistent ego at the others by constantly showing off his fantastic vocals and making shamefully funny snide remarks about their acting skills. There’s also the newly trained RADA graduate Toby (Arthur Hughes) who is also driven to madness which he chooses to expresses through a children’s audio book he’s written, while the delicate Elin-Rose (Louise Marie Lorey) becomes lost in Nick’s celebrity status and in her own world too at times (which is kind of understandable under the circumstances and may also be the safer place to be). We also meet Gael (Dean Rehman) an Adler actor who’s name is constantly mispronounced by the director, but who is somehow promoted in what becomes the Cold War version of the classic story; ‘Alix in Wundergarten’.


We are taken on a close and explicit journey of a first reading gone wrong, with singing, dancing, sexual advances and a storytelling Santa, where there is no line drawn between the actors world and ours. In this uniquely bold piece you question when the acting is acting and whether there is indeed anyone in the room who knows what on earth is going on at any point during the 90 minutes of witty weirdness. But what is definite about this performance is that you will feel for yourself how an environment and it’s contents can change you. How an imposing ego mixed with innocent ears and a straining need to be established in your own ideal can make you forget what it is you are ‘meant’ to be doing. I mean, you may not understand this piece, I understand that that’s not the point of it (if there is any definite point). But you will laugh, you will cringe and you will indulge in its oddly attractive madness. The wild and wonderful creation that is ‘Alix in Wundergarten’ written by François Pandolfo and directed by Angharad Lee, is a magnified mash up of the catastrophic collision between reality, time and logic, both in Wonderland and the rehearsal room. You’ll know what I mean when you see it..

Alix In Wundergarten - Richard Elfyn, Dean Rehman (photo  credit - Aenne Pallasca)

“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”

Alix in Wundergarten runs at The Other Room at Porter’s until 19th December.

Who doesn’t love a little absurdity?


Review Mack and Mabel, WMC by James Briggs


Direct from its home on Broadway, the smash hit musical Mack & Mabel is bringing all of the magic of the movies and Broadway to Cardiff Bay at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff. Mack and Mabel is based on the real-life romance between the Hollywood legends Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand. The musical tells the story of Mack Sennett who is a successful movie director who meets Mabel Normand, a sandwich shop girl who he makes his leading lady who instinctively knows how to act when faced with stereotypical villains of the screen.   They are a group of ground-breaking filmmakers who were pioneers in the world of film and their slapstick humour generated huge laughs from audiences that longed to escape the humdrum of everyday life. Mack and Mabel features an exceptional score written by the fantastic Jerry Herman and is widely prized for its classic Broadway sensations including I Won’t Send Roses and Tap Your Troubles Away.


Michael Ball is excellent as Mack Sennett who was regarded as one of the best movie directors of his time and Rebecca LaChance’s performance as Mabel Normand is compelling, she is cheerful and energetic. The musical has been directed with flair and panache by Jonathan Church, who has directed many other successful West End shows such as Patrick Stewart’s Macbeth. Mack and Mabel is crammed packed with great visual jokes that nod to some of Hollywood’s greatest stars.

During the show one is taken aback by the clever and complex sets that are used to bring back fond memories of times gone by. This was realised on stage by the use of old movie clips incorporated into the onstage scenery and also mixing sets that were constructed on stage with technology such as a projector to fill in the rest of the scene. This was done seamlessly and added to the overall feel of being at the movies. All of the ingenious sets were designed by Robert Jones and the fabulous choreography complimented the era of the silent movies extremely well, the choreography used created some brilliant characters and gave a feel to what may have gone on all those years ago. The seamless transitions between the movies being filmed on the stage to it being shown on the projectors was very clever and made the audience feel like they really were watching the movies being made.


This dazzling and exiting story leaves it’s audience with a lot to think about and a jubilant merriment of a time long ago. It is important that one should relish in the warmth of spirit then, which is reflected wonderfully in Jerry Herman’s naturally lush score and charming lyrics. Ensure you book tickets and go down to the Wales Millennium Centre to see Mack and Mabel between 01 Dec – 06 Dec 2015. You are guaranteed a nostalgic experience of the movie years gone by!