(4 / 5)
“Director Kate Wasserberg masterfully merges the humorous with the harrowing in Theatr Clwyd’s current revival of Cartwright’s ‘The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.”
The script itself – scathingly raw and rife with a complex combination of dark humour and revolting sexual innuendoes, though nevertheless appealing and often rich with tenderness and sentimentality – is conveyed with tremendous sensitivity by each performer. So much so that each of the actors – all brilliant – all awe-inspiring, perform with such a natural truthfulness, that I remain wholly entranced by each throughout this production.
The set was intricate and intriguing – with the placement of LV’s personal space and the remainder of the house distinctly separate and isolated. Impressively, the mere house was swiftly transformed into a spectacular nightclub.
However, it is Nicola Reynold’s performance as Mari, which was, above all else, an afflicting depiction of vulgarity and vulnerability. Initially, I deplored Mari’s neglectful and resentful attitude towards her daughter, but her gradual deterioration and eventual breakdown left me empathetic and with an aching heart. Though, sometimes I felt her performance to be too intensely revolting.
The character of Billy, though perhaps not the most significant character of the play, this particular interpretation shines with an awkward charm and perfect like-ability.
Though, undoubtedly, it was Catrin Aaron’s LV, arguably echoing the brilliance of Jane Horrock’s earlier performance of the same character that demanded recognition for its exceptional, glorious splendour. Shifting effortlessly from meek to magnificent, with impersonations that could quite truly be mistaken for the voices of Garland, Monroe and Piaf.
The production plays until the end of October at Theatre Clwyd.
L-R Ben Kulvichit and Clara Potter-Sweet in Celebration, performed at NSDF 2017 by Emergency Chorus
(4 / 5)
The initial moments of ‘Celebration’ are an obscure, wild, and dramatically unique combination of movement, dance and silly string. Ben Kulvichit and Clara Potter-Sweet exhibit both an outstanding mutual dynamic as well as a consistent youthful vivacity that was carried expertly throughout the (unfortunately brief) fifty-five-minute performance. I was so immensely impressed by their talents (varying from acting to accordion playing), that being reminded that they were merely students made me feel, in comparison, unaccomplished. I left the theatre feeling rather smug that I had witnessed an early performance of some potentially very successful future performers.
The production’s mixture of live music, electrifying dance and movement, as well as the profoundly effective drama, produced a poignant and evocative piece, that was nonetheless fun, vibrant, and an absolute pleasure to spectate. There was little pretence – most costume changes occurred on stage, and there was not a typically theatrical plot (really, it was rather Brechtian), but I felt consistently immersed in the poetic flow of each monologue and song, just as I would have done if this were a traditional piece. In fact, I am thoroughly relieved that these two young students so bravely dared to defy conventional theatre, and succeeded in delivering such an individual and positively eccentric performance. If this is where theatre is going, I’ll certainly continue to attend.
(4 / 5)
Rife with the daring wit and perceptive observation of society, gender dynamics, and identity, that is now considered to be quintessential of Wilde’s work. A humorous, yet equally astute, and sharp revival of a play that is arguably considered overly-produced, with energising dynamism.
Firstly, there is no ambiguity regarding the place of the actors and the audience – the fourth wall is suitably maintained – yet the almost Shakespearean quality of acting and mirthful spirit of the performers seems to allow for complete immersion within every aphorism that flies from their mouths; making the experience of witnessing this production not merely an observation of a collective group of actors, but an escape into the scintillating perspective and daringly droll world of Wilde.
Physically, most of the actors embody their respective characters with seemingly easily-attainable excellence. Backway and Jessup are impressively skilful in each gesture and movement, embodying precisely the fierce quick-witted physicality and attitudes of both Algernon and John respectively. Their mutual magnetism is established from the very start, and remains equally as alluring in the final scene.
Emma Denly plays Gwendolen with tremendous charm, and is consistently, and humorously, impassioned – making it very much impossible not to feel deeply enamoured of her immaculate characterisation. However, Robyn Cara’s portrayal of Cecily pales in comparison and, though certainly of an adequate standard, does not seem to fulfil the vibrant potential of the character.
Maclean’s interpretation of the ominous matriarch, Lady Bracknell, is formidably sinister – presented with such careful control and flawless superciliousness. Each syllable is pronounced with sharp diction; each movement is consumed by an almost satirical conceit. Though, nevertheless, her subtly, and occasional shines of humour are profoundly effective.
Atmospherically, the set, sound, and lighting are ingeniously suited to the performance, enhancing the environment with an aristocratic elegance and beauty, with subdued and comforting tones that allow not only for the actor to remain the primary focus of the performance, but to have their performances enhanced by the compelling replication of the grandeur of aristocratic Victorian England.
Ultimately, Richard Fitch’s production of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ frankly fulfils, if not supersedes, his already established acclaim through his directorial involvement in ‘Funny Girl’, ‘Urinetown’ and ‘Buried Child’, with an almost immaculate cast, and indisputable vigour from the moment the curtain rises, to the second it falls.