As a huge fan of Eddie Ladd, Deborah Light and Gwyn Emberton, I have been excited to see Caitlin for a long time – missing the chance when it came to London, my visit to Brecon happily coincided with their Welsh tour.
Directed by Light and choreographed and performed by Emberton and Ladd, the story of the piece is based upon the poet Dylan Thomas’s wife, Caitlin, her turbulent life with the Swansea celebrity and her alcoholism beginning before and continuing after his death.
Set out in a circle of chairs, the story unfolds before us as an AA meeting but the words are simple sentences and the rest purely physical. The chairs soon became metaphors and symbolism for lovers, baby chairs and Thomas’s gradual success until his death where he (literally) falls from grace.
I do feel slightly biased in the fact that these three dancers are such huge inspirations to me, but I couldn’t express how fluid and creative the movement were. Times where you could only imagine pain and impact of the body seemed so gentle and as if they did not hurt the performers was astounding. And they used every bit of space and every chair. It was a wonderful take on Caitlin’s life.
My only argument would be that I wanted more of the physicality and less of the chairs. While I completely understood the reasons behind the chairs, as a fan I just wanted more – perhaps that’s just me being greedy!
To accompany, the music was interesting, with no social/cultural significance but only to heighten the movement. And no particular theatrical lighting, giving the room a naturalistic feel rather than something created for theatrical purpose.
Caitlin, as all of Light, Ladd and Embertons work as a group and as individuals is a triumph. A beautiful representation of love, addiction and pain.
Directed by Deborah Light
Devised with and performed by Eddie Ladd and Gwyn Emberton
Sound by Siôn Orgon
Costumes by Neil Davies
Images by Warren Orchard http://www.gwynembertondance.com/caitlin/
Caitlin – spring tour 2017
27-28 March // Aberystwyth
2 April // Laugharne
5 April // Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon
8 April // Theatr Ardudwy, Harlech
11-15 April // Chapter, Caerdydd/ Cardiff
21 April // Ffwrnes, Llanelli
23 April // Llandrindod Wells
25 April // Barry Memo
Credit Warren Orchard
Choreography: Deborah Light, Eddie Ladd and Gwyn Emberton
Director: Deborah Light
Caitlin; Eddie Ladd
Dylan: Gwyn Emberton
Reviewer: Barbara Michaels
Based on the writing of Caitlin, the wife of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, this dance production tells of her life with the poet through the medium of a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous which she started to attend some twenty years after his death. Similar in style that of the one-woman show performed at the Sherman Theatre in 2003, it could equally have been named ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy.’
Caitlin’s recognition of the destruction wrought upon her life is portrayed in a series of dance moves, many of them violent in the extreme. In focussing on the turbulences of the Dylan marriage, director choreographer Deborah Light adheres closely to Caitlin’s own perception of her alcoholism and her life. The athleticism and technical skills of Eddie Ladd as Caitlin are showcased brilliantly, although there is a tendency to over- use of repetition, which can be tedious at times. One thinks of Ladd as a dancer but Light also allows her to speak, albeit briefly. Her speaking voice enthrals as much as her dance technique and makes a considerable contribution to Ladd’s characterisation. Her reiteration at intervals throughout that, while Dylan was a poet, “I could have been a dancer” adds poignancy to the overall projection of chaos, with dancers and furniture crashing around the stage for much of the time.
Ladd’s boundless energy is phenomenal, as is that of Gwyn Emberton, as Dylan. Many of Emberton’s dance moves require him to roll around the floor or balance precariously on a pyramid of stacked tubular and plastic chairs that teeter ominously. The said chairs are an integral part of the production, being used by the dancers use not only to represent actual objects – a baby’s pushchair, for instance – but also mood. There is no set, and these are the only props, barring a paperback book and four glasses of water with sweets in. Seated on some twenty chairs of the same ilk are the remainder of the cast (actually the audience), representing the members of the AA meeting which Caitlin is addressing.
In the year which marks the centenary of Dylan Thomas’s birth and the 60th anniversary of the iconic Under Milk Wood, it was inevitable that all aspects of his life would be explored in theatrical performances both nation and world-wide. His lifelong battle with alcoholism has been well documented; that of his wife Caitlin possibly less well so, In portraying this, and showing that while in some aspects it bound them together, Light’s production shows how eventually it destroyed not only their marriage but both of them.
Runs at Chapter for two more performance: Thursday October 30th at 6.30 and 8.30
Performances on Mon 3 + Tue 4 Nov at Volcano, The Iceland Building, 27-31 High Street, Swansea.
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