Category Archives: Uncategorized

DangerPoint ‘A safety education centre with children at its heart’

Opened in 2005, DangerPoint is an education centre which aims to inform the next generation about all things safety- from road safety, staying safe online, hazards to look out for in the home and much more!

An independent charity located in Talacre on the beautiful North Wales coast, DangerPoint has something to offer everyone, from educational tours for schools and organised groups to fantastic family days out, with a chance to take part in the Danger Detective Quest and Treasure Hunt or get artsy and crafty with CraftPoint- an opportunity to create and take home your very own masterpiece- from painting to pottery and beyond.

The centre is unique- providing an inclusive experience which immerses children and young people in real life situations thanks to its creative set-up…the centre is designed like a film set! Visitors venture from a living room to the kitchen, from the countryside to the beach, with many more stops along the way! Throughout their journey they are faced with varying safety scenarios and potential hazards as well as being presented with lots of hands-on activities to broaden their knowledge whilst having lots of fun!

Visitors will also get the chance to meet DangerPoint’s very own mascot, K-os. K-os is from another planet and doesn’t understand the dangers he could face on Earth! During a tour, visitors can talk to K-os and share with him any safety hints and tips they already know or any they’ve learnt throughout their visit. If you’re looking for somewhere to gain life skills in a totally immersive and interactive environment, then look no further!

To find out more about DangerPoint please visit 

Review, BLACK SUPERHERO, Danny Lee Wynter, Royal Court Theatre, by Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

With the increased popularity from For the Black Boys, which originated at Royal Court and exploded into the theatre scene, it is great that the baton is continued with another play based on black culture and even more emphasis on its queer community.

BLACK SUPERHERO is the story of David; struggling with his past, present and future, a life of drugs, drink and sense of being unsuccessful, he is also in love with his friend who happens to be a famous acting superhero. We see David struggle with his unrequited love, of forces dragging him back to his vices and the memories of a not so idyllic childhood that his sister encountered. Life is passing him by, and so is everyone else.

True Royal Court style, the set is ambiguous and futuristic – there is a sense of something you may see in a Marvel movie; the Superhero’s secret hideout, or even the villain’s lair, with the set almost cutting away to reveal new scenes. This is emphasised with moments of David’s imagination, when he pictures his love interest in his starring role, flying down into the set in his tights and mask. There’s the constant feeling of displacement but also familiarity; where you can set this play at any time or any place. However, with the themes of race and queerness, we can only hope that societal discrimination is improved if the production were to be staged again in the future and therefore not so realistic.

Each character is fully formed and naturalistic – they all have their own quirks and opinions, but none are stereotypical. This is a great and very real approach and especially opens up the cultural themes for anyone who doesn’t sit within the black or queer communities. All the performers bounce off each other, and so their relationships feel fully realised and real. We believe in David’s past and his trauma; we believe in his and his sister’s relationship and we believe in the heartbreak that comes along with the story. We very much feel as if we are walking into these rooms, breaking down the wall and intruding into life.

While a brilliant and emotional play, one that many can identify with on lots of different emotional and cultural levels, there felt a slight anti-climax with its narrative. Perhaps being so used to something happening in a crescendo or out of the blue at Royal Court that almost slaps you surprisingly in the face, this conclusion and tying up of relationships and issues felt perfectly normal and a “happy ending” many would wish to see. There’s nothing to say that this was wrong but for BLACK SUPERHERO, I very much wanted something more, whether that be narrative-ly or production value-wise.

Review, Acid’s Reign, Relish Theatre, Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

I am sad that, with this likely the last Vault’s Festival, I haven’t had the chance to visit as much as previous years. But how intriguing, to come across two pieces of Queer Theatre, touching on similar themes.

Acid’s Reign is a drag show come informative theatre, highlighting in a cabaret yet theatre narrative, the impact of various pollutants on the World and how it is slowly being destroyed. When I say that there are similar themes, Queer Planet and Acid’s Reign both touch on nature and the element of same sex or a-sexual animals that is not taught in biology class. It was interesting that these were approached for different reasons, but also really great to see different genres of Theatre taking up the political and educational baton with their shows.

Acid’s Reign uses various Drag Queens and Kings to feature as representations of nature – Acid (Joshua Oakes-Rogers) themselves are the “bad guy” that faces support towards redemption, representing a younger character to highlight generational attitudes towards the environment. They are witty, funny, and time of corpse-ing or loss of lines is hilariously well managed, creating layers of comedy and enjoyment that was unintended. They want to build a series of clubs because the World is beyond repair and this is where Mother Nature, played by Son of Tutu (Everybody’s talking about Jamie, film) begins a Christmas Carol style story of different “ghosts” visiting and trying to change Acid’s mind. Son of Tutu holds the stage, certainly embodying the Mother image but also had incredible comedic effect, even in the background.

Scarlett Harlett (Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK) plays the insatiable A-shell, Queen of the Sea, with her wall-shakingly amazing singing voice and continuous innuendo, her character reminding me of a dirty old Hollywood star meets Patsy from Ab Fab. For me, she stood out the most. Maybe some as a Drag Race fan, but I also felt she really commanded the stage and was always on point, even if not at the centre of the story.

Jamie Fuxx brings some masculine energy as our Drag King, Land, bringing yet another incredible singing voice to the mix and some hilarious tongue n cheek dirtiness to the stage. They slot into the cast impeccably, adding to the cacophony of different voices and characters.

Finally, Air is represented by audio, apt in what it is represented. The characters are enveloped with this, as if air can move and embody different persons and helps to culminate the activity and story. Acid is redeemed, and along the way we have been given nuggets of educational facts, some known, some unknown, tinged with comedic effect but also clearly affecting Acid in their solemn response and over all change of heart. We equally come away entertained, but thought provoked.

Acid’s Reign has a cast of incredible talents, all with their own approach and techniques but all with incredible voices and typical comedy skills from Drag/Cabaret shows. But something was missing for me. Perhaps it was just that the show needed a clear format – is this a traditional Cabaret show, where there’s an element of improvisation and crowd inspiration. Is this a musical and therefore represented by the songs that are changed slightly for the message. Or is this a straight play, with the addition of song, trying to bring a message and sticking to a written script. There’s nothing to say that any of it needs to be put in a certain box and cannot be more than one of these things, but at times it felt like too much was trying to be achieved and so lost the spark and perfection of a fully formed production. This clear path may come as a result of many productions, of working on it over years, and we may just be at the beginning of its development.

Acid’s Reign is a brilliant show – it is funny, it is informative, it is entertaining and a feast for the eyes. However, likely still in its infant stage of production, there is so much potential for the show, with the ability to open an important theme to an ever increasing audience as Queer Theatre and Drag comes more mainstream.

“The ability of music to open doors into the transcendent is extraordinary” An Interview with Julia Plaut.

Hi Julia, great to meet you. You have a background in music and education, can you give our readers some background information on your career to date? 

Straight out of Music College (RCM) I worked principally in the world of orchestral bassoon playing, freelancing with the BBC Symphony, BBC Scottish and also specialising as a baroque and classical bassoonist. I performed, recorded and toured internationally with ensembles such as The Academy of Ancient Music and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Alongside playing, I’ve been composing since I was a child. I write wide ranging music from orchestral to solo instrumental works, from opera to songs for children. I loved my own childhood music experiences and have been teaching music since I was a teenager. Creating Kodaly and Dalcroze inspired learning flows for groups of children is a particular passion. I enjoyed wonderful years as Head of Primary Music at Llandaff Cathedral School before moving to the RWCMD firstly for an M.Mus in Composition and then as a tutor for baroque bassoon and early years pedagogy.

So, what got you interested in the arts?

I had an inspirational class music teacher in my Primary School years. She introduced us to recorders, singing, tuned and untuned percussion. I remember enjoying the lessons and putting on fun concerts and productions. My parents were also very supportive in organising piano and ballet lessons and making sure we did our music practice. 

What importance does music have in your life and how have you combined the two areas of music and education in your professional career? 

Music gives me great joy as a performer, composer, worshipper, listener and educator. From the synergy of being in a high functioning orchestral wind section to the joy of engaging babies and toddlers in perfectly age-appropriate songs and games – the ability of music to open doors into the transcendent is extraordinary.

Music education has interweaved with performing and composing right across my career, often intermingling. It feels rather like cooking to me. You have a room of “ingredients” people/instruments/voices/music and you work deftly with what you’ve got to create a delicious meal that everyone enjoys. It’s about creating the optimum environment to bring out the best in each person’s unique flavour.

I resonate with strongly with Zoltan Kodaly’s maxim:

“Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me, I understand”.

You are delivering two different music activities as part of a RWCMD Music Residency at Penarth Pier Pavilion, as part of a new partnership with the Vale of Glamorgan Council.  A one-year pilot has been agreed that will see the college run parent and toddler music sessions, base a small ensemble at the pavilion and put on Dance Band evenings for the local community. The parent and toddler music sessions will be run by yourself, Julia Plaut, a composer who served for many years as Head of Primary Music at Llandaff Cathedral School, and take two forms – Morning Mini Music and Little Concerts. Running on a weekday morning in the pavilion gallery, Morning Mini Music sessions are focused on music and movement that help children with interaction and socialisation. Little Concerts will be weekend afternoon music events for families, specifically designed for the under-5s, that feature new works from RWCMD composers”

Credit Kirsten McTernan

How did you come to be involved in this project and what are your ambitions for its delivery?

Part of my work at the RWCMD is mentoring selected students in early years pedagogy. This project gives industry-facing experience to these students under the umbrella of an expert practitioner. My ambition is that we deliver high quality musical experiences for Penarth children and their families that create a real buzz locally while providing sector leading training for RWCMD students. You can find out more about the project and book tickets here

 You are the Artistic Director of Little Live Projects, this charity works to “inspire young people to flourish through sharing excellent musical experiences with professional musicians” How do you deliver this work? 

Little Live Projects has two strands. One is the Little Concerts series of joyful interactive chamber music events presented in partnership with the RWCMD. The other is the Cardiff Children’s Choir, an after-school community choir for children aged 5-11 years based at Urban Crofters near City Road in Cardiff. The choir welcomes all local children and particularly those from displaced families or who are facing barriers of any kind.

Credit Kirsten McTernan

You have close links with The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, how did this relationship develop?

Quite a few of the RWCMD staff team have been professional colleagues over the years. I’m a tutor for baroque bassoon and early years pedagogy there. I formally pitched the Little Live Projects vision as part of my M.Mus studies. The RWCMD and Little Live Projects share a strong synergy of vision for future focussed training with outstanding student experience delivered by world-class staff in providing transformative experiences for diverse communities.

The Little Live Projects Team.

Funding for musical provision is increasingly being cut for young people, can you see the impact on young peoples lives and possible career paths as professional musicians as a consequence? 

Good quality instrumental music tuition is a very expensive to fund, and importantly, to sustain over long enough to allow children to become accomplished enough to consider a career in music. El Sistema style initiatives like Making Music Changing Lives in Cardiff are doing brilliant work to address this deficit. I have questions about the usefulness of the large group instrumental teaching that takes place in schools which only gives a cursory taste, often on poor quality instruments and without the formation of basic good technique. I am however excited by the potential for choral singing to provide a quicker route into embodied musical understanding and real accomplishment. It works brilliantly in large groups and embeds aural and other transferable skills that children could then take into learning an instrument.

If you were able to fund an area of the arts what would this be and why?

I would fund an expert Kodaly practitioner to lead singing in every primary school in Wales one day a week. Each child has a singing voice that can be nurtured, giving them a worthwhile means of self-expression. Through singing together children develop the intimate knowledge of a social togetherness in which discipline and order prevail. Not only would these practitioners lead and embed singing but, in doing so, they would be providing continuing professional development for staff to carry on the singing confidently during the rest of the week.

What currently inspires you about the arts in the Wales?

I am inspired and encouraged by the way Ty Cerdd are championing Welsh composers and creators across a broad range of styles. I also gain a lot as a member of Anthem’s Atsain Network. Hearing nuts and bolts stories from other community music practitioners from around Wales gives me loads of inspirational ideas.

What was the last really great arts event that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers? 

Recently I attended a fabulous concert by Genesis Sixteen and Harry Christophers singing Handel’s Dixit Dominus at RWCMD. The musical excellence and vibrant energy that was released through seasoned professionals mentoring young singers, conductors, instrumentalists and soloists (aged 18-23) was breath-taking. It made my heart sing to see the cascading of good things into the next generation of musicians.

Thanks for your time.

Review: Iphigenia in Splott, Gary Owen, Lyric Hammersmith

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

I have wanted to see this play for such a long time. Having lived in Cardiff, knowing the area, the people, being half Welsh and writing for a predominantly Welsh based online magazine, the opportunity to see this in London where I live was too much of an opportunity to miss.

Iphigenia in Splott is a monologue piece based on one character, her travel through drink, drugs, poverty, her look for love and some position in the World. She thinks she finds a reason why she was put on this Earth, more than once, to find it cruelly taken from her grasp. We see her change emotionally, physically and mentally over a 75 minute period. A lifetime explored in just over an hour.

As expected – Iphigenia is nothing but spectacular. The character itself is vibrant, funny, and energetic. Iphigenia (played by Sophie Melville) is to some extent a parody of the council estate, on the poverty line person, that cannot only be seen in Cardiff but all over the country. But there is something that stops her being stereotypical. She isn’t a one dimensional character who puts a bad name on a community, a threat to society or others or is made fun of due to this. She is confident, she is abrupt but she is real and sensitive and after everything, a person.

The aesthetics have a somewhat Royal Court aspect to it – a simplicity but elements of theatricality and aim to impact. Basic staging and lighting, there are only 3 chairs that Iphigenia utilises, nothing massively inventive but aids in creating scenes in a pub, a club, her flat, a hospital and so on. Behind, a wall of lights, some broken, which look a little like blinds, which flash in colour and intensity at very specific moments to shock and throw the emotional impact in your face. It isn’t overdone though – it is minimal, relying much on the writing and on the performance itself. But it does give a theatrical element to the story.

The story itself isn’t necessarily one of anything that is unusual. The heartbreak in different guises has been told in lots of different formats over the last 20, 30, if not more, years. However, there is something new in the way that Owen has written this. We never really see the twists and turns coming. It is as shocking as if we haven’t ever heard the topics before, but written and delivered in such a way that it hurts nonetheless and shocks you to the core. Perhaps, we fall in love with Iphigenia – her approach to life, her impressions, her humour and when she is vulnerable, we don’t want the bad things to happen to her. Melville throws herself into the character – real tears and sweat and colour changing in her face at exertion and pain. She is so believable, that it’s hard to even consider that this is a fictional character and a play.

Ending by bringing her story back onto us, we are targeted and given guilt, even if not directly affected. There is a real comment on how others, especially those of a lower class or in poverty act as the guinea pigs or the collateral damage to pave the way for better processes, better services, better treatment. In a World and a country that seems to be disintegrating by the day, it is almost as if Owen predicted this. But at the same time, it is a story as old as time and one never changing.

Iphigenia in Splott is absolutely phenomenal. It is a real example of the hardships that some face, of how there isn’t always a happy ending or a magical turn around to some lives, of how many sacrifice a lot to help others without them ever realising it. It is emotional and comical and heartbreaking. I came away in tears at the pain I felt for the character but also at the real life problems our World faces today.

La Bohème – a review by Eva Marloes

photo credit Richard Hubert Smith
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

The Welsh National Opera reproposes Annabel Arden’s 2012 production of La Bohème, set in the early 20th century. It is a straightforward interpretation of Puccini’s opera with a minimal and, at times, unimaginative setting. The WNO succeeds in offering a production that is skillful and entertaining. Strong performances bring to life the romance, tragedy, as well as comedic elements of the opera.

Rodolfo (Jung Soo Yun) and Marcello (Germán E Alcántara) are skint artists living in a cold attic in Paris. Rodolfo falls quickly in love with frail Mimì (Elin Pritchard), but their complicated relationship flounders under the pressures of poverty and Rodolfo’s guilt for making Mimì ill. In contrast, Marcello’s affair with coquettish Musetta (Aoife Miskelly) is passionate and often funny. The friends Schaunard (Mark Nathan) and Alcindoro (Alastaire Moore) add to the bittersweet comedy of the production.

Elin Pritchard, as Mimì, and Aoife Miskelly, as Musetta, shine giving by far the best performances. Pritchard, who was a superb Michäela in a past WNO’s Carmen, is graceful and powerful. She conveys a tender tragedy infused with love and loss. Aoife Miskelly, who previously delighted the audience as the Cunning Little Vixen, performs with brio, charm, and sophistication. Miskelly has a beautiful light in her voice.

Baritone Germán E Alcántara gives a powerful performance with. Jung Soo Yun has a beautiful tonality but limited range. Jung’s voice lacks the power needed to counter the orchestra. This is disappointing, especially after he gave a masterful performance in Les Vêpres Sicilliennes.

photo credit Richard Hubert Smith

The quartet of the two couples Mimì and Rodolfo, and Musetta and Marcello is effective though underwhelming. Mark Nathan, as Schaunard, and Alastaire Moore, as Alcindoro, give robust performances holding the scene in Act Four.

The WNO’s choir is impeccable, as always, with a strong stage presence. The orchestra, under the baton of Lee Reynolds, gives a solid performance. This production of La Bohème is let done by the rehashing of a past production lacking in imaginative interpretation and an overly minimal setting, which here includes video projections of birds and of snow.

Review Taraka & The Pleasure Dome, Dareshack Bristol by James Ellis

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) The Pleasure Dome

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) Taraka

A surreal trip to Bristol would herald a gig of epic proportions. Having discovered Dareshack in my last visit to Brizzle, I marvelled at the cafe establishment which is also a hairdressers, along with other goings on. The other Dareshack on Wine Street would host this fine gig and has a more bar like feel.

The warm up act for the evening was The Pleasure Dome, though the name is deceptive. Whilst I went along with their intense, cutting rock, I found the sound levels to be exceptionally loud. It appeared I was the “old man” for this set and it almost bordered on a feat of endurance. Lead singer Bobby Spender arrived on stage, bare chested and chugging a beer. There is a slight feel of Ozzy to him, even if I wasn’t able to make out a single word in any of the songs. On bass, Loz Fancourt provided additional support in the makeup within the wall of noise. Drummer Bert Elvin had the energy of a horse who I was drawn to for most of their time on stage. I noted Bobby getting extremely liberal usage of feedback pedals, I assume the source of the screeching in my ears throughout. I’ll stay on the case and be down to see more of The Pleasure Dome in the future.

With the breakup of the band Prince Rama, front-woman Taraka has been establishing her own strident solo act, though is still very much an all round artist. A technical glitch made a brief predicament for the start of her show, though things would set off pretty quickly. With a mattress and bed sheets on stage, Taraka made for joyful viewing and listening. It is her dreamy, post-punk vibes that holds everything together. The trippy mix of binary numbers, Shepard tones and spam voice-messages that make for quirky patter in her songs. It’s all very charming and her stage presence shines. Even an impromptu pillow fight with the audience was a liberating few moments.

As if were weren’t treated enough, her encores would prove her versatility with an intimate guitar show, the audience invited to join her on stage. She even shared with us a brand new song not performed before, another thrill just for this Bristol crowd. This giddy audience seemed to lap up what she offered and her funny, wry talk also made for a great time.

Taraka would prove a great success in Cardiff, we could easily see her at the Festival of Voice or down Womaby Street very soon. This is one singer to keep a keen eye on!

Taraka continues on tour to End of the Road Festival, Salisbury, Paradiso in Amsterdam and Endless Summer in Marseille.

The Pleasure Dome are again in Bristol at Exchange on 24 September and back at Dareshack on 7 October. They also continue on tour around England & Wales.

Review Alexandra Savior & Morly Thekla Bristol by James Ellis

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) Alexandra Savior

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) Morly

Another quirky Bristol encounter saw me in the well known Thekla, a docked boat on the river which hosts gigs. The warm up act Morly was soft and subtle, gentle vocals joined with the patter of Nord keys. Lot’s of loveliness, though I craved a little variety. 

The buzz for the main line up was finally to begin (after a postponed gig), was palpable. Alexandra Savior has made waves online, some die-hard fans were present as they sang along to most of her songs. Her autumnal style is warm and cheery, she seems to sing to us though also for herself. Past relationships would reach their zenith in her craft, with her song Crying All The Time a real treat which could turn heads for its blunt beauty. Her band also were razor sharp and you can feel the collaboration oozes in no doubt many gigs. 

What I really wanted to hear was Howl, my gateway song for Alexandria and sadly we would not hear it this time. One feels her star is still on the rise, even with the successes already achieved. You can really feel her growing pains in these songs, a young woman coming into her own, confident and sharp. This rocking concert made for a special Friday night treat. You can see the bigger venues opening up to her. The grooving and good buzz around the whole space is a testament to her talents. Go see her on tour. 

Alexandra Savior continues on tour in the UK, Europe & Turkey.

5 Minutes with Katie Elin-Salt, writer of ‘Celebrated Virgins’, Theatr Clwyd

Celebrated Virgins is Theatr Clwyd’s brand new play written by Katie Elin-Salt and directed by Eleri B. Jones. The show is based on the true story of Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby who were forced to flee Ireland and took up residence in Llangollen. They were true LGBTQ+ icons of their time and this show sees them tell their story, on their own terms for the very first time.

We sat down with Katie, writer of the show, to find out more:

You will be a familiar face to many at Theatr Clwyd as an actor. What’s it like to be back?

When I first came to Clwyd, I was a nervous 21-year-old performing a cameo role in As You Like It, under the direction of Terry Hands. Since then, Theatr Clwyd has always been a home from home for me and I have been privileged to perform here as an actor many times – growing from bit parts to leads in shows such as Educating Rita and Under Milk Wood, I was even lucky enough to be the fairy in the panto two years ago – what an honour! To come back to Mold under this capacity, is just the most incredible feeling. I have always felt so supported by the team and the audience at Theatr Clwyd and I could not be in a safer place to be premiering my first full play. But I honestly feel if I could tell that nervous 21 year old a decade ago that her name would one day be on the front of those programmes – she would never have believed it!

Give us a brief of what Celebrated Virgins is about?

Celebrated Virgins is based on the true story of two remarkable women – Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler a.k.a ‘The Ladies of Llangollen’. We follow their story from separate childhoods in the upper echelons of 18th century Irish society to meeting each other at school and forming an unbreakable bond. This leads them to decide they would rather leave everything they have known behind than live without each other. We then follow their journey to Plas Newydd, their home for over 50 years in Llangollen and learn through them the bravery and the fear involved in living an authentic life in full view of a community who does not always understand who you truly are. 

What made you want to create this show?            

Well, firstly it is just an amazing epic love story and I remain amazed and bewildered that it has taken nearly 300 years for it to be put on a stage. It really has everything – love, risk, danger, even someone dressing in a suit and jumping out of a window armed with a pistol and a Jack Russell – I mean what more could you want? But also, I think it is incredibly important for today’s society that we see stories like Sarah and Eleanor’s represented on stage. It has taken such a long time for love between two women to be not only accepted but celebrated, and I want to show the next generation of LGBTQ+ that their stories and their history are just as important and worth celebrating as anybody else’s.

It’s such a fascinating story but this will be the first time they are telling it themselves. What can the audience expect?

The audience can expect to see two brilliant women at the front and centre of their own story. We have an amazing cast of professional actors and also added to that the addition of a cast from the local community – who will show us what life was really like for the Ladies as they tried to make their way in society. We have an incredible movement and sound team who will bring this story bang up to date and of course fantastic direction from Eleri B. Jones. I would tell the audience to buy an ice cream and get comfortable as the lights go down as they are in for a truly epic night of theatre – and after the last two years I think that is the least an audience deserves!

What advice would you give to people wanting to get into the industry?

My first bit of advice would be to try out as many facets of your creativity as you possibly can! Like many young people I got into this industry through my local youth theatre, there I found a love of theatre and a friendship and connection I couldn’t find anywhere else. I realised there that I could act but it took me until the age of 30 to realise I might be any good at writing – think of all that wasted time! I am also now training as a music therapist to spread my creativity even further. There are some elements of this job I definitely can’t do (trust me you don’t want to see me trying to move set around a stage), but that is when you find the people who can and let them support and help you. Basically, no matter where you come from or what your story is – find it, own it and let yourself be seen in as many glorious ways as you possibly can!

Celebrated Virgins will be performed at Theatr Clwyd from Friday 20 May – Saturday 4 June. Tickets start at £10 and can be booked here. Please check the website for Trigger Warnings.

Review, Life of Pi, Wyndham Theatre, by Hannah Goslin

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Spoiler – if I could give this production more than 5 stars, then I would. It has been a long time since I enjoyed and was so utterly transfixed by something as I was with Life of Pi.

Brought out in film form a few years ago, Life of Pi took Hollywood by storm with the interesting and unusual story of a boy who finds himself stranded on a boat, alone with a Tiger.

When I saw the film, I wasn’t as bowled over as everyone else seemed to be. My experience and reluctance was still in situ when I came to see Life of Pi but the promise of puppetry and somehow a boat on stage, made me want to see for myself.

Firstly – the performers were ah-mazing. The interaction and relationships between them was entirely believable, and if this wasn’t on a stage, you could easily believe the relationships that were performed. Each character was fully realised and even when they doubled up on characters, you forgot that you saw them as, say, the uncle beforehand. Costuming helped to some degree but the pure talent of the performers really sold it. The main character of Pi was hilarious and cheeky and such a likeable character. This made emotional parts of the story more intense with someone you like and want to look after. His cheekiness was everything a 17 year old boy would give and it pocketed itself in between the hard moments of turmoil.

The staging was magnificent – unlike anything I have seen before; the whole stage had points where the elements rose from nowhere, where Pi jumps through the stage shocking us, where it changes easily from a zoo, to a ship, to a boat, to a hospital room. Instead of painted set, the entire aesthetic was brought by light and projection – and this became innovative from typewriting style lettering to pin point the place and date, to a starry sky or fish swimming below the boat. This alone was immersive and transfixed me along with the narrative and performance.

And of course, the pièce de résistance, was the puppetry of the animals. From life size Zebras to small fish, the puppetry took on the same technique as debuted in War Horse – entirely believable, the little mannerisms and personalities of these animals came through with the flick of a tale or the twitch of an ear. The larger creatures featured the full bodies of puppeteers inside to help the movement and others helped with various maneuvering by others. But as amazing as these performers were, they were forgotten by the realness they brought across with movement of these puppets.

I will freely admit that I found myself in tears, not only at the narrative, but at the beauty of these puppets, as if they were real animals on stage. They were magnificent and entirely believable.

The less wholesome elements of the story, which features animals being eaten or blood and gore to some degree, is done extremely well and tastefully, using lighting, coloured fabric and ominous music to accompany. You cringe away as if it is real but part of you knows that it is only the well presented theatrics.

Life of Pi, whether you enjoyed the film or not, is one of the best things I have ever seen and is the ultimate must see in theatre. It is every part funny, emotional, awe-inspiring and beautiful. For a West End production, there is the gorgeous element of immersion with the beautiful stage design and the action is shocking and intense as the narrative is meant to be. This is a show I will never forget and have ever since, not stopped thinking about.