Category Archives: Uncategorized

Collaborating with Theatr Clwyd to develop a Welsh critical network

Get the Chance has collaborated with Theatr Clwyd to run a free ‘Get the Chance to be a theatre critic’ workshop and provide free tickets to Theatr Clwyd’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest. The event was supported by Gwennan Mair Jones, Director of Creative Engagement, Theatr Clwyd.

Get the Chance was able to run this activity through funding from Arts Council Wales Sharing Together. “A strategic initiative to encourage the development of networking opportunities.”

Get the Chance to be a Theatre Critic

12 new critics attended the event ranging in age from 14-80 years. During the workshop we discussed the role of the critic, differing methods of giving critical feedback and the role of the press and marketing department. Many of the those attending are strong advocates for the venue and cultural provision in general. Some of the group attended youth theatre and community engagement workshops at the venue. Some of the group had an education background and had brought young people to see performances in the venue. Some of the older participants have attended performances from the theatres construction in 1976 to the present day.

The participants are all excellent examples of Creative Citizens. Get the Chance is developing a socially engaged, democratic audience development model called Creative Citizens Cymru. Many of the fundamental principles of this model are very similar to the principal goals of the  Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act.


Some of the reviews for The Importance of Being of Earnest have been posted on the Get the Chance website

Review The Importance of Being Earnest, Theatr Clwyd by Elizabeth Lambrakis

Audio review The Importance of Being Earnest, Theatr Clwyd by Hannah Bywood

Review The Importance of Being Earnest, Theatr Clwyd by Bethany Mcaulay

Review The Importance of Being Ernest, Theatr Clwyd by Karis Alaina Clarke

It was a very welcome opportunity for Get the Chance to develop its critical network in North Wales. We thank the Arts Council of Wales for funding this opportunity and the support of colleagues at Theatr Clwyd.

All of the participants will earn Spice Time Credits for their time spent volunteering with Get the Chance Wales.

Get Started With Time Credits

An online survey has been created to continue some of the conversations raised during the workshops we have been running. If you run a venue or company and are interested in supporting the democratisation of critical networks we invite you to contribute your thoughts to the survey.

This is the third event Get the Chance has ran through this funding stream, blog posts of the other events can be found below

The Launch of Creative Citizens Cymru

Get the Chance to takepART

Guy O’Donnell the director of Get the Chance organised a similar event a few years ago and a blog post on this event can be found at the link below.

An interview with artist Kyle Legall

The Director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently got the chance to chat to Kyle Legall. We discussed his career to date, theatre in Wales and his new production RATS (Rose Against the System) which plays at Wales Millennium Centre 02-03 June 2017.

“Hi Kyle great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?”

Kyle Legall spray paints Planet Rock, Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force. T-shirt, Higher Graphics.

“I believe you are currently preparing for a new production at The Wales Millennium Centre called RATS (Rose Against The System). I wonder if you can tell us more?”

Kyle was inaugural artist of the year with National Theatre Wales. This information below is taken from Klyle’s blog post on the development process of RATS which was posted on the NTW Community.

Kyle with a RATS cast member

“I will be presenting a glimpse of my Rats project; Rose Against The System. This is an animation I have been working on over the last year. The rats of Butetown have got wise and decide to fight back. I am planning on showing how far I have gotten by trying out a performing version for the first instalment to see if it could work as a theatre piece as well as an animation.”

“I have involved local musicians and spoken word talents such as Wibidy and Weller from Degaba. Music score by Dafydd Ieaun, from ‘Catatonia’ and ‘Super Furry Animals’ performing with his new band ‘The Earth’ introducing a new talent I discovered whilst in Edinburgh Fringe, Sam Porter. Guest Voice by Rhys Ifans.”

A live trailer for an earlier version of RATS (Contains strong language)
Voices by Rhys Ifans, Weller, Wibidy, Sciddy, Sam Porter. Music by Dafydd Ieaun from Super Furry Animals

“What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?”

“Many thanks for your time.”

Spice Time Credits- The day I went from Londoner to Tourist

As some of you may or may not know, Get The Chance Wales has a lovely relationship with Spice Time Credits.

As reviewers we earn our credits from our reviews and they can be used for pretty much anything.

Today is my last day in London for a while as I traipse off to America for a bit. As a self confessed Londoner of 2 1/2 years I thought I’d be a tourist for the day and use my Time Credits.

I previously took my parents to the Tower of London – astounded at the money saved and value of experience we got from this.

Spending Time Credits at the Tower of London by Hannah Goslin

Today I saw parts of London I had never seen- views from the MBNA clipper that floated us down the Thames, going crazy fast when water seemed more open – which was tonnes of fun.

The famous Tower Bridge- looking down at the small ant like people below through the glass floor. Queasy feeling this experience but ever so cool none the less.

As most Londoners know – most things are within walking distance. So I trotted up to The Monument. An almost non recognisable statue in a city of architecture, The Monument is to commemorate the Great Fire of London.  Inside are 311 steps – and boy does it feel it! While I’m hardly fit, even the fittest struggled but it’s well worth it for the beautiful view at the top and the certificate you get at the end for climbing it.

Finally a short distance away is St Paul’s Cathedral. Well recognised and providing cameos in plenty of TV and films, it is a highlight of London. Inside is ornate and rich, the ceilings phenomenal and gold, with beautiful imagery. To reach the very high up whispering gallery in the main dome, it’s another never ending staircase but very much worth it for what you see.

Time Credits have allowed me to experience parts of London I do not think I ever would have chosen to see on my own and felt like a wonderful reward.

Get Started With Time Credits

Review Power Rangers by Jonathan Evans

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Power Rangers is a franchise that has lasted because it has a tried and tested formula that works. Teenagers get superpower as well as colorful outfits and must defend the earth (or neighborhood) from a galactic threat that then escalates to giant monster vs giant robot.

There have been other movies before, but none have done that well. Now it seems that every studio needs a big franchise under their belt so why not this one?

Kicking off everything is a flashback to prehistoric Earth where colorful warriors lay defeated from a battle, when their armor disintegrates it reveals them to be aliens. One of them stands victorious over the others, this one is named Rita, the last one living, Zordon (Bryan Cranston) orders a meteor to hit earth and buries five colorful coins until the right people can claim them. Cut to present time where the land has become the small town of Angel Grove.

In the town we see a young man named Jason (Dacre Montgomery) attempting a prank that involves the school mascot cow, this goes awry and he is then sentenced to school on Saturday’s just so he can graduate. In this same class there is Billy (RJ Cyler) a possibly autistic kid that is the motormouth and juxtaposes the others with his offbeat ways (probably my favorite). Kimbery (Naomi Scott) a former popular girl but is now in-class and unfriended because she sent a picture and punched out a popular boys tooth (they put it back), later they run into Rini (Becky G) a girl who wander around pretty much and isn’t interested in getting to know the gang, then there’s Zack (Ludi Lin) who also wanders around but is also crazy (cause he tells us so) and more invites himself.

Eventually they do uncover the coins and they get powers and unlock other things and must face the threat, yadda-yadda-yadda.

Clearly the most effort has gone into adding depth to these teenage characters, giving them backstory and trauma and some kind of adversity to tackle. They are all part of a different ethnicity which adds diversity and is more like humanity coming together rather than mostly white people and the token minority.

The thing about all of this is that this is Power Rangers (try saying it out loud). This is by its nature corny, colorful and lighthearted. So they keep in some of the quips and color but when they introduce the dark, edgy elements it doesn’t mesh. A comedic scene can play out and it’s fine, however a dark scene can be pulled-off well but becomes that just happened in a movie where the cheesy things happened it’s like we’re in another movie. Good movies have a theme and tone consistent throughout, they establish if this is for children, teenagers or adults and plays to the kind of mood for said audience. This comes off more unhinged.

Rita Repulsa is the original big villain in the first season of Power Rangers. Here she is given a now look but still taking ques from the original (mostly in the staff) and reworked to be more threatening. The main draw is Elizabeth Banks who decides to go all out in performing her as well as clearly having a lot of fun. It’s hammy, but in a controlled way.

This movie has everything that fans of Power Rangers will expect, but may be not how they’re used to getting it. But even then, does this movie work? It works well enough, it is self aware enough to point out some more obvious cliches and pokes fun of itself enough while clearly being enthusiastic over the source material. For a summer blockbuster for kids and teenagers this is a standard plot with good intention of having a diverse cast. It will do no harm and there are moments where people will be entertained.


Review Zone Play Centre by Kate Richards

Get the Chance has a broad definition of cultural provision. Some of our team are parents or carers and may access theatre, soft play, cinema and leisure facilities. We are also part of the Spice Time Credits network. The Zone play centre supports Spice Time Credit spend.

Out of my Comfort Zone

I have to be honest, when I opened the door of Zone Play Centre on a drizzly Sunday afternoon my heart sank. I’m not a huge fan of indoor soft play centres at the best of times, so the noise that assaulted me and the orange-tinged glow of the artificial lights combined with the total lack of windows, was almost enough to make me turn back…..but breaking a promise to my 3 year old was not an option.
However, first impressions can be wrong. The first positive was the cost – Zone is considerably cheaper than some other options in Cardiff (£4.00 for under 4s compared to £10.50 for the same time in another well-known venue near the city centre).

Zone is also part of the Spice Time Credits Network,costing  2 Time Credits per child.

There is a link to the South East Wales Time Credits Spend brochure below

The second positive was the amount of seating and its proximity to the play areas; yes it makes it louder and a bit more cramped, but the grown-ups in our party were able to sit fairly comfortably with a drink, whilst maintaining sight of the children as they played, and this even though it was very busy and had two private parties going on simultaneously.
Our party consisted of 3 adults, two 3 year olds and an 11 month old (who got in for free with his paying older sibling), and I have to say that this was one of the best suited play centres for children of those ages that I have been to. The frames are not so high and so big that the 3 year olds couldn’t cope on their own, or were at risk of going too high and getting stuck out of reach. Even better was the dedicated area for the babies. Most soft plays I have been to have an area for little ones, but often these consist of a ball pit, and some moveable soft blocks or shapes – most of which tend to be still too big or heavy for them to do anything with. Zone however had a basket of small toys (which if necessary you can take back to your table to amuse them whilst you deal with your other little one and supervise snack time or whatever). There was also a play kitchen and wendy house for them to explore as well as the usual soft balls and blocks that you would expect to find in a soft play centre. This section for the very youngest children is located in the middle of the larger frames, so you can sit comfortably in there with the baby, and still see (or be seen) by the pre-schoolers playing on the main frame – ideal for parents coping with two or more children of different ages. Again, whilst at first it seemed a bit cramped and noisy for the little ones to be in the middle of the space – it turned out to be very practical for us.
The other positive for my son, were the cars and bikes. He’s happy to clamber up a play frame and dive down some slides for a period of time, but he will spend hours riding around on a little trike or sitting in a ‘Cosy Coupe’ car, so he was absolutely delighted at the number of those available – even at a peak time on a very busy weekend.
We only bought cold drinks, so I can’t really comment on the refreshments on offer at Zone, but one facility we did make plenty of use of were the toilets. It’s not a pleasant topic, but it’s an important factor for any parent like me, with a recently potty-trained toddler who struggles to prioritise trips to the toilet over playing with his friends, and like most kids of this age can easily misjudge the time it takes to get from the top of a play frame, to Mummy and then on to the toilet, so we were frequent visitors. Again I was pleasantly surprised. Whilst not the most modern facilities I’ve seen, the baby changer had a clean, soft mat on it – and I think there were even wipes available (though those could have been left by another customer I suppose), and in the ladies, there was actually enough space within the cubicles to attend to my 3 year old without me having to train as a contortionist beforehand.
By the end of our visit, whilst pleased to step into daylight and give my ringing ears a rest from the cacophony within, I had to admit, that the kids had a great time, and for young children like ours Zone play centre is very well suited to their needs.
Zone Playcentre
Entry prices

Under 8 months Free

9 – 11 Months £1 (Free if accompanied by an older paying child)

1 – 4 Years – £4.00

5 – 12 Years – £5.00

Time restrictions of 2 hours play will apply on busy periods.

Opening Times

Open 7 days a week

Open from 9:15 am to 6pm Monday to Friday

Saturdays 10am to 6pm

Sundays 11am to 5pm from 1st February 2017

No admittance an hour before closing from 1st February 2017

Kitchen Opening Times

Open 7 days a week

Open from 11:00am – 5:00pm Monday to Saturday

Last orders 4.45pm

Sundays from 11.00am – 4.00pm from 1st February

Last orders 3.45pm


Review DenMARKED, Conrad Murray, Battersea Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Raw. Interesting. Emotional. With a dash of music in the form of looping, beat box. All from one man.

DenMARKED is what can only be described as brilliance. Taken biographically, this one man show from Conrad Murray hits the emotional pedal, pulls the heart strings, but also gives you the giggles. From times of being beaten by his father, his life of constantly being put down and fear of going no where but to rock bottom, however coming out the other side with the help of Shakespeare, music and the arts, we feel as if we are on a roller coaster with him; being able to tell his story is a triumph in itself but to express and tell the tale with such confidence, such theatricality and reflectiveness brings all the different elements to this hour or so long monologue, keeping us interested and the growing sense of friendship with Murray.

Basic use of lighting, pre-recorded narrative titles are used well, not taking away anything from this man, his story, his guitar and loop machine. The music itself is incredible – if this guy was not talented enough with how he has created theatre and ‘performed’ it in such a fantastic way, he continues to shine through the great ‘beats’ he makes on the spot – a CD I would love to own.

DenMARKED parallels parts of Murray’s life with the story of Hamlet, using key quotes to add that little something extra to his message.

With all these elements, this is a clever production and one of a kind – some can do spoken word; some can beat box and use this as a story telling technique; and of course some act. Conrad Murray does all of these, and more, bringing a polished, honest and brave production to the Battersea stage.

Review Live Before you Die, Battersea Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Since coming to the same venue to see Hairspeace last year, I have noticed that there is little (or in my opinion not enough) of performance arts with honesty, in a sort of presentation style.

Walking into Live Before you Die, I was not expecting it to have this theme. But it’s a theme I’m beginning to love.

Live Before you Die is a performance art come presentation of Byron Vincent and Dave McGinn’s journey to fix Byron. With a long standing illness of Bi Polar disorder, this truthful, at times shocking, at others hilarious and brave performance looks into Byron’s disorder, Dave’s friendship and attempts to help and all the crazy, interesting and scary events through this journey.

From meeting American self help professionals, to a stint in Vegas, and a missed show at the Edinburgh fringe, this pair tell their story while bouncing off one another. There’s no fancy tricks, no crazy light and sound moments intervening, no progressive dance; simply two men, in a sort of ‘Pointless’ set up (I’ve got to admit, it was a younger and more interesting similarity to the game show) and video clips of the tale.

This may sound boring – who sees a show that is so minimalist? But do not be fooled – coming from such honesty is definite intrigue and to add all these atmospheric theatrical additions would only ruin what they are achieving. To try and explain such a diverse and complicated illness is hard enough, but to be open and bring your highs, lows and confessions to 40 or so complete strangers takes guts and counteracts the stigma around mental health in a way that I have never seen before or doubt anyone has tried to do.

We are made to feel like friends; we laugh and joke with them, and this relaxed performance isn’t just what we need but we also sense that for Byron and Dave, this is something they need too.

Finishing with a hug from Byron at the end, there’s no certainty of what is next for this pair, but we can be sure their friendship, talent for performance art and more antics are definitely going to continue in abundance. And we hope, positive progression for Byron.

An Interview with Elise Davison on Access and Breaking out of the Box 3

The Director of Get the Chance Guy O’Donnell recently got the chance to chat to Elise Davison Artistic Director of Taking Flight Theatre Company. Elise discussed her career to date, the arts in Wales, access issues and Breaking out of the Box 3.

This short video is an introduction from Elise Davison Artistic Director of Flight Theatre company. Elise introduced herself and briefly discusses Breaking out of the Box 3. There is an audio sound file interview with Elise below and a written one below that.

Hi Elise great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

Hi, I started out as performer and toured for about 10 years living out of suitcase and having a reasonably successful career. I was also a drama teacher so that plugged any gaps on my theatre work. In 2008 I set up Taking Flight Theatre company with Beth House and in 2009 I moved to Cardiff, had my first child and I started directing. In 2010 I hung up my acting shoes and began my life as a theatre director and I love it!

So what got you interested in the arts?

My mum and my grandmother both danced to a high standard and despite some really exciting opportunities – neither of them went on to pursue it as a career and I think they both regretted it. I always thought I would be a dancer and studied ballet until I was 21. I realised, however, years before that that my real passion was for acting and so I went to Warwick University to study theatre – it was a very academic course and after graduating I felt I needed more practical training so I went to drama school in Birmingham ( I wanted to come to Cardiff then but it didn’t work out!)

Taking Flight have organised an event called Breaking out of the Box 3, I wonder if you can tell us more about this event?

Yes – it’s an access symposium focussing in particular about ways to increase access for blind and visually impaired audience members. We’ve got a really exciting line up and we will explore practical approaches to audio description and tactile access materials. We will discuss ways to access the blind and visually impaired audiences and hear about the innovative Ramps on the Moon initiative happening in England at the moment. I am really looking forward to it.

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based artists?
There are always barriers especially surrounding with access, but as a country need to recognise these barriers and realise that we have a joint responsibility to start breaking these down. I feel there has been a lot of progress in the last few years in Wales to tackle some of these barriers but there is still such a long way to go.

As an inclusive company Taking Flight also carefully consider their potential audiences.  I wonder if you think there are any barriers for them to access cultural provision in Wales? On a positive I wonder if you can think of any examples of good practice?
One thing always strikes me as odd – there are often a lot of forums discussing access with no one who will be using that access present to say what they actually need. In 2015 TF did a lot of work with the D/deaf community in Wales to find out why they weren’t accessing theatre and how we could start to address this. The stories about mistrust of venues came flooding out. Stories of broken hearing loop, broken captions and shows billed as being interpreted not being. We realised that so much need to be done to make people trust that access would be provided before we could even start to build our audience. The blind and visually impaired audience also struggled to trust that their access requirements would be met. In addition it was hard to get the message out to the right people that shows were accessible. It was then that we started to look at our marketing and began developing BSL and audio flyers and made sure that the correct access symbols were clearly displayed.
The Hynt card is a great scheme and Sherman 5 have done some excellent work engaging new audiences.

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

I’m going to be a bit predictable and say access but I feel so strongly about this. I feel people are put off by the cost and the fact that it eats into your budget so much. I would make access costs an extra pot which sits on top of grant limits. This is because – I believe it is a human right to be able to access the arts and sometimes this is denied due to financial constraints – or companies are forced to choose which access to provide. In an ideal world -all shows should be captioned, be BSL interpreted and be audio described – or have that provision available so that D/deaf and disabled people have the same choice as non disabled people. Access is expensive, so I would like to take the barrier of cost away so people can be freer to experiment with creative access.

What excites you about the arts in Wales? What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?
I love the arts community in Wales – it’s a wonderful place to live and make theatre. It’s a generous and support network and I feel honoured to be part of it. I’ve just comeback from an access forum (organised by Rhian Lewis at National Theatre Wales) where Jo Verrent spoke about Unlimited and it was wonderful, there were some amazing discussions, passion and desire to make a change.

I’m massively looking forward to seeing Graeae’s production of House of Bernarda Alda especially as one of TF’s associate artists Chloe Clarke is performing in it!

The House of Bernarda Alba


Thanks for your time Elise.

Review : Wish List, The Royal Court by Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

The Royal Court never ceases to amaze. Priding itself in great original writing, I keep expecting to come and not enjoy myself. Willing there to be something that I come away and not like, or be slightly unenthused with. But it never happens. And I am so glad it never happens.

Wish List a coproduction with Royal Court Theatre/Royal Exchange Theatre and written by Katherine Soper, (Winner of the 2015 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting) has a very inventive but minimal set. A conveyor belt that comes down from the ceiling and parts that are moveable around the stage, basing much of itself as a prop in the house which evidently is always on stage also, situated at the far end. A basic shower unit and kitchen, this is a basic home for a brother and sister duo that are far from simple.

Tamsin (played by Erin Doherty) and Dean (Joseph Quinn) are troubled siblings with a troubled past. Evident in his continual repetitive movements, the pair are struggling to meet ends with Dean’s incapability of working due to his OCD disability and Tamsin’s lack of time to work with helping him each day. Through the course of 1 hour and 40mins, we see them both grow together as people and as siblings, coping with one another’s issues and developments.

Our other characters are Luke (Shaquille Ali-Yebuah) and Tamsin’s new boss (Aleksandar Mikic) fit like a glove into the narrative. Each character has its own presence on stage and the performers do well to make them so different from one another.

Quinn has the uneasy job of making his ticks and repetitive gestures seem realistic; to show his uneasy sense around even his sister and problem with being touched. It is so naturalistic and probable that I felt myself wondering if he was even acting. But the real challenge lies on Doherty. She is not void of problems herself and is evidently an anxious, nervous, problematic person in herself while also being strong for her brother. She is so incredible with this that again, I struggled to not fall into the imaginative of the piece, which felt as if someone had taken away the window to this pair’s life.

Wish List from its set to the performers to the writing is nothing less than extraordinary and so perfect that one feels like an intruder into the private.

Wish List

2016 Cultural Highlights from the Get the Chance team


Members of the Get the Chance team have selected their own personal highlights of 2016. Their first choice is that of three cultural events that they have reviewed  Their second is something they have personally experienced which has resonance for them as an individual.

3rd Act Critic Helen Joy

1 Tom Jones, The Musical Theatr na nÓg

Local boy made good in spectacular style by a local theatre company, brought alive through the lucky chance of sitting next to the daughter of the publican 

Review Tom: A Story of Tom Jones, The Musical by Helen Joy

2 Animatorium – Dance on the pavement with NDCW

Gala Night, National Dance Company Wales

3 Kiss me Kate

“A feast WNO”

Kiss Me Kate, WNO

Personal Event of the year

“Being published, in a very minor capacity, in Country Smallholding magazine three times this year – and the latest article seemed to give so much pleasure to the group I reported on at the Savour Kilkenny Food Festival.”

Young Critic Amelia Seren

1. Clear-Cut @ M.A.D.E:

“The opportunity to catch a diverse range of artists or performers mid-thought, and to witness the creative process so intimately is valuable and rare. Clear-Cut is a must-see.”

Review Clear-Cut 6 M.A.D.E. – by Amelia Seren Roberts

2. Cardiff Contemporary: Festival of the Visual Arts in Cardiff. [Especially the work of S. Mark Gubb at G39 and the opening of TactileBosch].

3. Sticky Intimacy @ Chapter: Works by Katie Cuddon, Emma Hart and Nicholas Pope.

Personal Event of the year

My personal highlight of 2016 has been graduating from Cardiff School of Art & Design with a First Class Masters Degree in Fine Art, [MFA]. I am extremely grateful for the knowledge I’ve developed whilst studying in Cardiff, as well as the opportunity to have gained valuable work experience in the arts in South Wales.

Community Critic Emily Garside

1. Romeo and Juliet Taking Flight
“For taking a classic Shakespeare play that is perhaps overly familiar for some and making it fresh and new by putting inclusive art at the centre of creativity rather than an add on or afterthought.”


2.  Meet Fred Hijinx

“A clever, touching and at times hilarious look at life and the obstacles it throws at us (literally at times) through the eyes of two foot high puppet Fred”

Theatre | Meet Fred

3. A Good Clean Heart Neonatopia at The Other Room

“How could you not love a play that has a Dizzy Rascal rap in Welsh?”

Highlights of the Year 2016 Part 1

Personal Event of the year

‘My most important happening/event would be the Brexit vote, for being something that is likely to impact our lives (including cultural) but also for uniting people in the face of divisions as well.”

Young Critic Lauren Ellis Stretch 

1 Scorch Primecut Productions at the Sherman Theatre

“Scorch is electrifying. It alights, and it shocks, it launches you, and it takes no prisoners. Never have I wanted an actor to look me in the eyes more than Amy McAllister. She was fierce without anguish, and she was light without compromise. She is your friend.”

Review, Not I and Scorch, Sherman Theatre by Lauren Ellis-Stretch

2 Bird The Sherman Theatre/Manchester Royal Exchange

Never have I experienced such encompassing performances. Bird holds  up a mirror to the real world and the audience are almost blinded by the familiar reflections.

Review Bird Sherman Cymru by Lauren Ellis-Stretch

3 The Weir the Sherman Theatre/Tobacco Factory

“A classic of contemporary theatre; empathetic, voyeuristic, and unnerving”

Review The Weir, The Sherman Theatre by Lauren Ellis-Stretch


Young Critic Sian Thomas 

1 The Cardiff Book Festival

“I had such a brilliant time, and I was in my element surrounded by people who share the same interests as me and them being supportive and friendly. Though we were all at different stages of writing while some of us were published where others weren’t, it wasn’t even about that. It was nice that we were all there for our common interest and that alone which built us all up. I loved that day so much.”
2  Wolfsong by TJ Klune

“Definitely the best book I’ve read all year”

Review Wolfsong TJ Klune by Sian Thomas

3 Peter Pan at the Everyman Festival

“A truly wonderful production which I wholeheartedly enjoyed and would gladly see again.”

Review Disneys Peter Pan at the Everyman Festival by Sian Thomas

Personal Event of the year

“The most important thing is that I had ages this summer to work on my own writing and used that to my advantage. I was able to write a cohesive and structured 23,000 words, which is so important to me and something I am immeasurably proud of. I’ve continued working on it outside of this and instead in chunks and scenes around schoolwork to build it up before hopefully piecing it altogether soon.”

Community Critic Gemma Treharne Foose

1 Meet Fred, Hijinx at The Other Room

A work of art! A clever Japanese-inspired political puppetry tale of modern times. Completely original and unlike anything else out there.

Review ‘Meet Fred’ Hijinx Theatre by Gemma Treharne-Foose

2 Wonderman Gagglebabble/NTW/WMC at the Tramshed

“A jazzy and dreamy musical extravaganza – colour, joy, wit and wonder, inspired by Dahl and extra magic added courtesy of National Theatre Wales and the Wales Millennium Centre.”

Review Wonderman, Gagglebabble by Gemma Treharne-Foose

3 Bird The Sherman Theatre/Manchester Royal Exchange

A spot-on portrayal of growing up ‘in the system’ and the pervasive strength and bond of family and friends. Edgy, authentic and deeply moving. My stomach was in nots and I was a sweaty mess watching it!

Review Bird Sherman Cymru by Gemma Treharne-Foose

Other memorable ones to note:

The Borrowers, The Sherman Theatre-  “I didn’t review it but saw with my family – completely beautiful production, fell in love with all the characters and cast – laughed, cried and left on a happy cloud. Superb!”

The Hunting of the Snark, The Sherman Theatre: “Again I didn’t review but saw it with my family – poignant and sweet, a funny romp of a tale with stand out characters.”

“The Sherman Theatre  is nailing these family shows, they don’t talk down to the audience, they bring them in for a ‘catch’ and a chuckle instead. There’s substance to the shows without being preachy or basic. I have thoroughly enjoyed the family productions there this year, faultless!”

Young Critic Hannah Goslin

1. Three Penny Opera – National Theatre

Three Penny Opera is a mixture of comedy, escapism and taboo challenging, all combined with fantastic acting, vocal accompaniment and overall, an excellent theatre concept.

Review Threepenny Opera, National Theatre, By Hannah Goslin

2. Smash It Up – Mr & Mrs Clark, Battersea Arts Centre

“If there is only one thing you do this year, it should be to see any show by this formidable company. Their open and in your face opinion and protest to the state of art leaves you not only thinking but also rooting for them if you weren’t already involved In the conversation. Flying the flag for Wales – The Clarks have easily conquered London.”

Review Smash It Up, Mr and Mrs Clark, Battersea Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

3. Unreachable – The Royal Court

“It was a joy and wonderful to see the actors finding the play just as funny as we did.”

Review Unreachable, The Royal Court, By Hannah Goslin

Personal Event of the year

‘This year I decided to spend two months seeing a glimpse of the World. Travelling through South America, stopping in Canada, heading to Japan, Thailand, India and a quick dip in Abu Dhabi, I went away as one person and came back as a better one. I saw amazing things, met interesting people and found part of who I really am. An experience unlike any other.”

3rd Act Critic Barbara Michaels

1 The Marinsky  Ballet

Superlatives are usually to be avoided when writing a review. There are, however, exceptions. Perfection is the word that springs to mind. 5*

Mariinsky Ballet – Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

2 Mandela by the Cape Town Opera Company at the WMC

A unique piece of musical theatre and a history lesson.

Mandela Trilogy – Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

3 Romeo and Juliet Performed by the National Youth Theatre of Wales.

A cast of talented young actors under a brilliant artistic director daring to add their own interpretation of one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.

Romeo and Juliet – New Theatre, Cardiff

Personal Event of the year

“As for my own top personal cultural experience – it is yet to come. On Christmas Eve, no less, when as a surprise present my family is taking me to Sadler’s Well’s to see a performance of Matthew Bourne’s new ballet ‘The Red Shoes.’ It has had rave reviews. Will be touring, so hopefully coming to Cardiff in 2017.”

Young Critic Osian Evans
1. Hub Fest

“Hub fest was spot on this year with it’s street party vibe, I wish Womanby street was like that every weekend. Dancing to a silent disco in a courtyard was a highlight for me.”.

2 Cardiff’s screening of Rogue One

3  Swn Fest

“It’s just perfect. It’s a festival that not only showcases the City of Cardiff but also the wonderful atmosphere of the city.”

Review Sŵn Fest by Osian Ifans

Personal Event of the year

“My personal event would be Foyer Sessions on the 29th of April at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff. Yeah I chose my own event and what!? That’s the reason it was personal, it was great to see that many people turn up to see some live music and look at some art.”

Young Critic Kaitlin Wray

1. Constellation Street The Other Room Theatre

“The monologues interlinked beautifully. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it and would love to be taken on that journey again.”

Review Constellation Street The Other Room by Kaitlin Wray

2. Henry VI by Omidaze at WMC

“I would recommend everyone to watch this show, Shakespeare fan or not. Omidaze are challenging theatre conventions even more than we’ve ever seen and you should be a part of this experience.”

Review Henry VI Omidaze by Kaitlin Wray

3. Bird – Sherman Cymru/Manchester Royal Exchange

“Outstanding direction, a story that’s so raw I felt like I was trespassing into their private lives”

Review Bird Sherman Cymru By Kaitlin Wray

Young Critic Amina Elmi

1 The article I wrote on diversity.

“We know that diversity does work and that it is not a risk. So why does Hollywood remain white?”

Diversity in the Media by Amina Elmi

Personal Event of the year

The most important event of 2016 for me personally Brexit as it is something that seemed trivial to me at first as someone who could not legally vote at the time, but as the result came in that the Britain was leaving European union it became apparent that it was much more Complicated than I previously thought. The rise in hate crime has also been an issue that I care about strongly.”

3rd Act Critic Catherine Parkinson

Personal Event of the year

“A cultural highlight for me this year was the Roald Dahl weekend. I was in the massed choir for City of the Unexpected, so my cultural highlight of the year was singing a medley of Welsh songs at the gates of Cardiff Castle in front of an enormous crowd. It was topped off by the ‘marriage’ event at City Hall that evening with Delibes’ Flower Duet being performed by two Opera Singers on the roof of City Hall with a live orchestra – a real ‘goose-bump’ moment for me, made all the more poignant by the fact that this piece was played at our wedding as I am sure it is many weddings.

In terms of the most important event of the year it has to be the Brexit vote. As an ex Erasmus student that had the privilege of studying in Italy for a year as part of my first degree, and now working in a University Science department, I can’t tell you the gloomy atmosphere that pervaded the University after the result. Our international students and colleagues alike, took it very hard and we continue to fear what the effect will be on science funding and collaboration with our European counterparts in the future.”

Community Critic Sarah Debnham

1. Mamma Mia at The Wales Millennium Centre

“Without a doubt the best theatre show I’ve seen yet!”

Review ‘Mamma Mia The Musical’ Wales Millennium Centre by Sarah Debnam

2. The Freddie Mercury Project Sinfonia Cymru at the RWCMD

“I think we witnessed something special in the Freddie Mercury Project, and think that the effort and skill poured into this production did not fail to impress. The standing ovation at both shows we went to echoed this as well I think.”

Review The Freddie Mercury Project, Sinfonia Cymru, RWCMD by Sarah & Lucy Debnam

3. George’s Marvellous Medicine at the New Theatre

‘I don’t think there was anything I could fault from this production, the acting was spot on, the scenery and props were amazing and the music and lighting cleverly used.  Many things could have been missed or ignored but weren’t and the attention to detail was brilliant. As everything Roald Dahl seems to be, brilliant!”

Review George’s Marvellous Medicine, The New Theatre, Cardiff by Sarah Debnam