*Trigger warning: the play contains discriminatory slurs directed towards the GRT community, and some distressing scenes*
Stone the Crows has had a fascinating journey to Chapter’s Seligman Theatre. Written by acclaimed playwright Tim Rhys, it debuted as a film starring Terence Stamp and Nick Moran and has now finally made its way to the medium for which it was conceived, in a breathlessly bold new production by Winterlight in association with Company of Sirens.
Tucker (Oliver Morgan-Thomas) is a jaded urbanite who longs to escape the choking grip of city life, so he snaps up a ramshackle farm on the suburbs. While Tucker clings to the dream of peace, what he really wants is uncontested dominance – but this brash new king has a challenger to the throne: Crow (Boo Golding), a mysterious loner who worships the forest and is prepared to do whatever it takes to defend it.
Directed with kinetic intensity by Chris Durnall, Stone the Crows is the transcendent culmination of everything Company of Sirens has worked to achieve. This is a play about borders: between people, between identities, between the urban and the rural, and between those who respect the land and those who gut it for profit. Even its setting transcends categories or definitions: Rhys terms it a ‘social jungle’, a liminal space in which the tangible and the psychological blur together.
And Golding’s Crow is a character who embodies liminality. They exist free of binaries, expectations, demands. They adore the forest with an anchorite’s zeal, and spend the play’s first few minutes meticulously constructing a skeletal altar from twigs and branches in the manner of an ancient ritual. While Golding is mercurial as the wind, Morgan-Thomas is all iron and grit, hard as the city that built him; there’s a simmering machismo to his performance which suggests that rage, fed and informed by white supremacy, is never far from the surface.
Tucker’s particular evil can be seen in the awful, racialized abuse he directs at the Travellers who live and work on ‘his’ land. The title itself evokes a racial slur against Roma people (specifically the Romani communities of Eastern Europe). While it’s unclear to what extent GRT people were consulted in the making of the play, the creative team’s intentions are firmly in solidarity with these marginalised communities (and very firmly against despotic legislation currently making its way through Parliament), and Rhys and Golding depict the main character with empathy, nuance and complexity.
The visceral connection between its two central performers is the axis on which the story turns. While Golding shifts effortlessly between Puck-like trickster and vengeful spirit, Morgan Thomas’ laddish certitude grows increasingly sinister as the action unfurls. They mimic, complete, and predict each other; there’s a dynamism to their exchanges that, even when they don’t interact directly, renders their connection immediate and undeniable. It also means that when their characters do finally ‘meet’, it’s breathtaking.
Nature, though, is the master here, captured by Eren Anderson’s exquisite music. His soundscape beautifully weaves the gently unspooling song of the forest. He plays, at first, only when we are in Crow’s perspective, as if the primal music of the spheres flows only through them, and not Tucker. All we hear when Tucker speaks is the snap of a twig underfoot and the susurrus of rustling leaves. But then, when allegiances and sympathies start to shift, their melodies intertwine like roots.
Hypnotic and engrossing, Stone the Crows is a masterpiece of gorgeous brutality. The play leaves us at a threshold, and you must decide whether to turn back or to cross into the unknown.
Blue is a powerful drama set by the Welsh, Carmarthenshire coast which centres around the Williams family dinner in the looming absence of a father figure.
The play starts when daughter Elin brings former teacher, Thomas, home to sleep with him. However, to Elin’s surprise her brother is in and her mother home early. A confusion over Thomas’ presence ensues and drives the play forward.
Thomas finds himself awkwardly
caught in a family argument under tragic circumstances but is ultimately the
trigger for improvement and progress amongst the family.
The writing from Rhys Warrington is brilliant. Meticulously paced and incredibly detailed, the script starts out light-hearted and funny but as it progresses, and delves deeper into the characters, we notice something isn’t normal. At no point does anything feel forced, the play flows naturally and develops with great care.
Blue is subtly political in talking about lack of funding for the NHS. But doesn’t stray from the importance of the characters involved whose lives are being ruined by these cuts.
It’s fair to say, Rhys
Warrington is off to a great start with his first feature-length play and I can’t
wait to see what he writes next.
The direction from Chelsey Gillard is simply stunning. Every aspect of the script is explored diligently. This play could have been easily mismanaged but Gillard controls it masterfully. Beautifully allowing performers time to draw scenes out and the design elements to set the scene. Chelsey Gillard is forging a name for herself as one of the pioneering directors of contemporary Welsh theatre and her achievement with Bluehas only boosted that claim.
The performances are exceptional
from every performer. Sophie Melville is brilliant as Elin. Proving once again
what a talent she is, Melville encapsulates the final stages of teenage angst
with growing mid-20’s maturity brilliantly.
Gwydion Rhys plays Elin’s shy brother, Huw, expertly. His eyes lighting up the moment Thomas asks about Minecraft. A heart-breaking and simultaneously heart-warming moment as it’s clear this is the first time someone has taken an interest in his interests outside of his online alternate-reality. We can all relate in some way to Huw and Rhys’ portrayal is a testament to this.
Jordan Bernarde’s performance as Thomas is handled with as much care as the character is attentive to the others. We can sense Thomas’ awkwardness and even though we’re aware he’s really there to sleep with Elin, we see his kind-hearted nature too. It’s only when Thomas exits the play that you realise the impact Bernarde’s performance has on the production.
Choosing a standout performance is near-impossible, but if we are to do so, it has to be Nia Roberts in portraying the matriarch figure, Lisa Williams. Everything is perfect from Roberts in this performance. At the mention of her husband, everything about her character changes, from tone to body-language – perfect. This performance will standout as one of the best in Wales this year.
The sound design from Tic Ashfield is very understated and effective. The sound mostly soothes into the background, almost unnoticeable if you’re not looking for it – but is powerful and essential to the production.
Oliver Harman’s design is
simple and functional. Detailed to what one would expect any living/dining room
to look like, with nothing left to waste. The blue door is, in particular, a
Ceri James’ lighting is an essential tool for setting the mood, which James does excellently. Subtly changing throughout and providing a nice alternative to blackouts between scenes which is specifically good. The slight blue tint in some of the lighting is also lovely.
It’s frustrating when a production leaves the design elements as an after-thought and whilst it’s very subtle in Blue, the design, on all fronts, contribute hugely to Blue’s artistic success.
It’s important to stress what a team effort this production is. Huge credit must also go to Rebecca Jade Hammond for creating and producing this piece, as well as all involved at Chippy Lane and Chapter in the making of Blue.
a heart-breaking drama about a family split in their grief of a father figure
who is both no longer present and not yet absent.
BLUE performed at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff World Premiere 5th – 16th February 2019 Running time approximately 90 minutes Created and Produced by Rebecca Jade Hammond Written by Rhys Warrington Directed by Chelsey Gillard Cast: Elin – Sophie Melville Thomas – Jordan Bernarde Lisa – Nia Roberts Huw – Gwydion Rhys Designer: Oliver Harman Lighting Designer: Ceri James Sound Designer and Composer: Tic Ashfield Dramaturg: Matthew Bulgo Co-Producers: Chippy Lane Production and Chapter Stage Manager: Bethan Dawson Production Assistant: Sophie Hughes BSL Interpreter: Sami Thorpe Photography: Kirsten McTernan Marketing and PR: Chloe Nelkin Consulting & PR
If there was ever a time we needed a WOW festival, it’s in 2018. Women of the World celebrates women and girls and takes a frank and at times challenging look at the obstacles faced by women.
It’s a global movement akin to the ‘V Day’ celebrations I have been lucky enough to be a part of elsewhere in the globe. This would be the first ‘full-blown’ version of the festival to take place in Wales (between 24th-25th November) and the first bilingual version of the festival. Both V Day and Women of the World celebrations aren’t purely about one topic, one issue – this year’s WOW Fest held everything from workshops on fixing bicycles to polemical clowning and talks/workshops on homelessness, self-care, black women’s hair, boxing, movement and storytelling.
This is very much about helping women to discover something new, finding solutions and new ideas to tackle problems old and new. It’s not a conference or a symposium, but a place you come to meet, connect with others and be inspired to take part.
Founded in 2010 by Southbank Centre’s Artistic Director, Jude Kelly CBE, it’s the biggest gathering of women and girls around the globe, reaching over 2 million people in 20 cities across 5 continents. It cooks up a series of varied, entertaining and challenging talks, debates, live music and performance, activism and comedy, along with mentoring and pop up events to create an eclectic and localised version of the larger global movement.
The 2018 WOW experience in Wales took place at Chapter Arts Centre, a smaller but perhaps more homely venue than a previous version of the festival was held in 2016 – at the Wales Millennium Centre. This year’s version featured a line up including Gwenno Saunders, Charlotte Church, Sian Evans, Lula Mehbratu (The Digital Migrant), Sahar Al-Faifi, Sian James former MP, Gemma Price (Boxing Pretty), Anna Hursey, Shahien Taj OBE, Lucy Owen (BBC Wales) and LayFullStop.
The staff handling the festival were wonderful, everyone from the lively chap checking me in, despite my apparent lack of ability to talk and articulate sentences that day, the ‘caped crusader’ volunteers donning glittery WOW capes, who brought so much pep and joy to the proceedings and helping headless chicken types like me navigate their way around. Then of course the regular Chapter staff who do so much to make everyone feel welcome.
It’s a lovely open space, but intimate enough not to feel intimidating unlike the labyrinth-like WMC, in which even the most regular of customers can still feel a bit lost and overwhelmed. Due to my Thanksgiving celebrations that weekend (perhaps this had something to do with my not being able to speak when I arrived), I unfortunately missed the majority of the festival and arrived towards the end of the final day, around 3.30pm.
There was still lots to see, lots going on and there was no sign of anyone’s enthusiasm waning. There was a lively, energetic atmosphere in Chapter’s Café Bar and members of the ‘Only Menopause Allowed’ choir were getting ready to perform. I caught the majority of the moving accounts of women affected by the Grenfell and Aberfan disasters during a panel discussion in Chapter’s Cinema 1 space.
Hosted by festival founder Jude Kelly, this was a sensitive but ultimately eye-opening account of the experiences of the women at the centre of both tragedies. We heard the terrible story of a panelist’s sibling whose family were torn apart by the death of her sister who went to school on the last day of term over 50 years ago and never came home.
Her father had been Chair of the Aberfan Memorial Site and spent his entire life fighting for justice for families in Aberfan after the NCB decided that £500 was a sufficient amount to compensate for the lost life of a child. To add insult to injury, the victims were forced to pay from their own fundraising fund for the NCB to remove the slurry and waste that had killed and injured so many.
This was a sobering account of both tragedies, where the guest speakers spoke with grace, real compassion for the other panelists and determination to see justice for the victims. They were not giving up the fight – and 52 years later, the daughter of the Chair of the Aberfan Memorial site had taken up the baton from her father and continues to campaign.
The Grenfell representatives who’d come down from London to tell their story spoke of being side-lined by local authorities, abandoned by the Government and belittled by large global charities. Theirs was a story of women the world over – organisers, do-ers, campaigners, nurturers – being rendered voiceless by individuals and organisations that assumed they knew better.
Like Aberfan, the fundraising efforts in Grenfell were mishandled by outside forces. Donations which had poured in from the public disappeared without trace, no explanation given about their whereabouts. Families struggled to gain access to funds and slowly – another community lost faith in those who were meant to protect them, more than 50 years after this happened to a community over 200 miles away.
The kinship these survivors and campaigners showed on stage was clear and their dignity and fortitude was incredibly moving. After leaving the Cinema/discussion, it was clear that the content of the talk had clearly affected some audience members, who left the Cinema weeping or being comforted by friends and relatives.
With limited time remaining, I decided to explore upstairs in the hopes of catching an act which had caught my attention in the programme. LayFullStop (I’d never heard of her before) is a female hip-hop/soul artist from Manchester via Birmingham. Accompanied on Stage by Woddy Green, who she has collaborated with on a number of tracks, I was surprised that such a small and unassuming young girl could possess such an incredible sultry voice and ferocious bars.
She’s been honing her talents with well-known collectives Cul De Sac and Roots Raddix and has built a cult following since 2016. It’s been a while since I have been in the loop when it comes to music and musical trends and probably more than 20 years (or more!) since I actively bought hip-hop music or read about it in ‘The Source.’ Apart from attending a Biggie Smalls Memorial Concert in my late teens and listening to Snoop Dog on Spotify now and again, that’s about as far as my knowledge goes these days.
LayFullStop amazed me, I had only intended to pop in for a quick listen but watched her entire set from start to finish. If you’ve ever had a passing appreciation for Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill or Lil Kim, you will love her. This was an utterly refreshing musical style and approach for those who like me find the ‘style over substance’ direction of hip-hop and music in general, a bit distasteful, fake or even tiresome. Her sound is slick – and far from the blingy, flashy humble (or not-so-humble) bragging which tends to dominate hip-hop performed by men, LayFullStop lets the music do the talking, rather than her style.
Her tracks are a sweet fusion of silky jazz, nostalgic soul and UK hip-hop, delivered with wit and panache from a small but fierce Mancunian. It’s rare for artists to skip so effortlessly from punchy hip-hop to sweet singing voice, but more than that – her lyrics are gold, focusing not on the more material and shallow aspects you tend to find in popular culture, but of the life-enhancing elements we can all identify with: finding your inner voice and power, enjoying touch and sensual experiences as a woman, growing intellectually and spiritually.
This to me is true influence and I felt richer for being part of it…she’s been on repeat on Soundcloud since the weekend. Women: I urge you to listen to this phenomenal woman from Manchester.
When you listen to her singing ‘Intact (Cradle Me)’, ‘Kansas’ and ‘Bohemian Queen’ you will be fixing your crown and sitting up a little straighter before facing the world.
Even in such a small snippet, this festival was a tonic for the sisterly soul. Thank you LayFullStop and WOW Fest for giving me some courage and hope on a rainy, grey weekend – if this is what the future looks like, then we’re in good hands.
Mathilde with the Of Mice and Men Company. Photographic credit Studio Cano.
The Director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently got the chance to chat to with Mathilde Lopéz, Artistic Director, August 012. We discussed her career to date, her new production Of Mice and Men at Chapter Arts Centre this October and her thoughts on theatre in Wales today.
Hi Mathilde great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please? Hi, I am a theatre director and the artistic director of August 012. I was a founding member of National Theatre Wales, used to be Literary manager at Theatre Royal Stratford East and before directing, I worked as a scenographer. I trained at Central St Martins and Birkbeck College. I am French, I am of Spanish origin and grew up in Morrocco and the West Indies. So what got you interestedin theatre and the arts? Drawing, painting and sculpting were first, then theatre happened. I don’t remember a particular moment so I either forgot or it was always there.
August 012 Yuri, Credit Studio Cano.
Your company August 012 describes itself as “developed, shaped and questioned by the way we live here and now, and therefore profoundly and structurally relevant to the nation today.” Is it possible to explain how you approach this methodology whencreating work for the stage? I am interested in how we live today and where we make the work. Everything I do is profoundly anchored in our times, our current technical equipment, our politics and the space and people we make it with. I often work with new participants along with trained actors and set tangible challenges- either through space or casting- in the rehearsal room so that we all wrestle not only with the ideas of the play today, but its embodiment.
August 012 Caligula, Credit Studio Cano
In October, August 012 is performingOf Mice and Menby John Steinbeck at Chapter Arts Centre. I wonder if you can discuss why you choose to direct this play? I love Steinbeck. Particularly Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row. I read them in a loop for a couple of years when I was a teenager. In French and in Casablanca and it felt very close, I sometimes think that the combination of poverty with the sea and the sun-like Steinbeck Californian characters- must have had something to do with it. I also read Of Mice and Men which felt then and still feels now, like the essence of the United States of America in all its grandeur and catastrophe. Ultimately, I always wanted to do Steinbeck, and I might carry on, his novels are so generous and compassionate that they do help to breath.
Wil Young who will play the role of Lennie
The role of Lennie will be performed byWil Young. Wilis a company member from Hijinx North Academy, one of 5 Academies in Wales that trains learning disabled and/or autistic adults to become professional actors. Hijinx havepioneered supporting the work ofdisabled and/orautistic actors on our stages, how did this new collaboration develop? I’ve reread the novel trying to establish a contemporary view on Lennie’s character with Cardiff School of Psychology researchers. We concluded that Lennie would potentially be on the autism spectrum and it felt right to work with an actor who would understand and confront himself with these difficulties on a daily basis. We contacted Hijinx for advice and they quickly became collaborators. They were thrilled by the idea of casting one of their actor in a main role and were very helpful and supportive. Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision Are you aware of anybarriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales basedartists/creatives? I am aware that you only realise that there are barriers when you are different yourself or know and share time with people who are. August 012 tries to minimise barriers in the way we make and produce theatre like many companies do –I see more and more theatre companies that invest in making work accessible-but I am sure we could all do more and are largely unaware. What has become apparent and is now crucial is that we keep organising regular opportunities for consultation with people with different disabilities, from varied age groups and from different social backgrounds. This is the only way to get things right.
Mathilde with the Of Mice and Men company, credit Studio Cano.
There are a range of organisation supporting Welsh and Wales based theatre companies, I wonder if you feel the current support network and career opportunities feel ‘healthy’ to you? There are not enough opportunities in theatre in Wales but I think it is steadily growing. I wish more was done towards creating bridges with international festivals and networks in the European Union and elsewhere, most of the efforts in Wales are UK centric (or London and Edinburgh centric) and I believe artists and cultural organisations ought to reach out particularly in the current political climate. If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why? Fine Arts and Music. Because I think they inspire all the rest. Fine Arts definitely inspires me to create theatre. Always. I am not sure about the contrary.
Bedwyr Williams, Artes Mundi 2017
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? Some companies and artists in Wales embrace their cultural difference and celebrate their particularity which goes well beyond language and I like that freedom. There’s a lot of freedom in theatre making here and cross arts form widely happened in Wales before it was even a term! So I enjoy the work that manages to connect this specific originality with the world, like Bedwyr Williams piece for Artes Mundi 2017 or in a different vein, the choir in WNO’s Khovanshchina. Many thanks for your time Mathilde.
CHAPTER IN ASSOCIATION WITH GARETH JOHN BALE AND OWEN THOMAS
This is very uncomfortable viewing in a very small intimate space. We are witnesses to a private life in a public space.
Laughing at jokes our present vox populi disdains. Awkward. Funny. Have we forgotten that some things are just funny? Not sexist, dirty, grubby, misogynist, vile, elitist. Just funny.
From the mid 1980s onwards, we start to judge. We start to create a view of things humorous according to an assumed view of things social, socially acceptable. We start to judge a man according to his popularity, his means. Mean, they said. Was he?
Was Benny even half the terrible things we said he was? How refreshing to get another view.
Not mean but normal. Not lecherous but admiring. Not base but witty.
Hugely popular for years, a hard-working comic who paved the path others trod. A quiet man. A man who sat in his chair and who we all like to think died in shame and misery and silence.
Silence, yes. Peace, yes. The peace of his own home, his own chair.
Why do we fear being alone in death so much? What else have we, the populi, also lost along with our ability to judge individually and in context?
Our vox seems louder than ever but is it shouting down the debate and silencing the dissenters? Uncomfortable viewing indeed.
An outstanding, enjoyable, humane performance by Liam Tobin. Clever direction, clever script. Enough hopping back and for through time to make it theatre, not so much as to make it contrived.
I absolutely loved the final scene – the main man, the person, Benny, playing out of the television and over his room, his chair, his body. Playing that tune, that background music to life as we know it.
Very, very good stuff indeed.
It is a grey audience tonight. How would a younger audience react, I wonder. It would be interesting to show a Benny Hill programme beforehand. Even more interesting to get each member of the audience’s honest reactions.
Could be a shocker!
Oh and I sat next to someone who knew someone who knew one of Benny’s Angels… and she had had a blast!
Performed by Liam Tobin
Written by Owen Thomas
Directed by Gareth John Bale Reviewed by Helen Joy, 3rd Act Critic for Get the Chance, Friday 9th September
All about my Tits
I know Anna, a bit. We worked together briefly in a local charity supporting people receiving mental health services. We stayed in touch as she moved her career into the arts. I interviewed her on Radio Cardiff about this play. Her play. Her life. Her tits.
Anyone thinking this was going to be about anyone else’s tits is mistaken. Any social-political commentary is suggestive rather than overt, Anna is her own one woman treatise on the elastic line between tit and breast, sexual objects and milk bar.
I really like the atmosphere as we walk in to take our seats. The room is dark, girls are dancing, pop is playing, pictures of breasts various on the screen. White Russians are handed out. Not sure we get the significance yet. Much clearer when the breast milk samples are offered ’round later in the performance.
The dancing girls insinuate themselves into the audience. Hecklers and fighters for the views of others on breastfeeding as it progresses. A messy milky fight for rights.
It is a monologue of Anna’s experiences, a voyage ’round her breasts from girlhood to adulthood to motherhood and beyond. She refers to her book, diary perhaps, along the way. Stories are started, we are left to draw our own conclusions.
Anna uses her heckling dancers to good effect. A male heckler is used to make the point that it is not a show for titillation, ‘though Anna is fearless and shares her body appropriately and willingly and with a gentle self-deprecating humour.
Now. Here’s the thing. I haven’t had children and frankly, I don’t know much about tits as mother nature never felt much inclined towards generosity in that department.
This is a play about Anna’s tits. I have no idea what she is talking about for most of the time. I can see that the audience loves it – mostly women, mostly women with children I would assume, they are nodding in agreement and laughing with Anna throughout. She relates back. It is very nicely done.
Anna is sharing the intimate details of her life and most of the women, and a few men, are with her. Laughing with the relief of their own confusion, pain, embarrassments and pleasures being given air-time.
The atmosphere becomes heady with love for Anna, for her honesty, for the sisterhood. But I am lost.
I am sitting next to another woman equally detached from the proceedings. We want to love her too but we can’t. We are not part of this. But we admire her, enormously.
Afterwards, by invitation, the foyer is full of women signing the cartoon tits laid out on tables, they are groupies waiting for their heroine, their voice, to join them. Something powerful is happening here.
The clue was in the title. This is a brave, funny, honest autobiography and like many things we don’t quite like, don’t quite understand, it will stay with me far longer than anything I have enjoyed more. It made me think about the changing roles of the breast in society and in nature. It made me slightly jealous.
PS typing this has been annoyingly tricky as predictive/corrective text replaces TITS with TITUS, BREASTS with BEASTS. Says it all really.
Seen: Friday, 7th July, 2017
Venue: Chapter Arts, Cardiff
Reviewer: Helen Joy for Get the Chance
Performer, producer, director, writer: Anna Suschitsky
Moment(o)s, a strange, sinister and sad autobiography about Elaine Paton , who suffered from manic depression.
For those who have do not know what manic depression is, you can liken it to the traditional dramatic masks of torturous tragedy and chuckling comedy, switching randomly and so a person may randomly be very cheerful or cheerless – this is what Elaine portrays in her drama.
Hurt by the loss of loved mother, manic depression pulls the strings of Elaine’s life and causes horrid and humorous consequences throughout her life. Such as: hallucinations, relationship cuts and ties and sorrowful suicide.
This play is fine art, I experienced tugs and pulls of confusion, laughs, and overwhelming floods of mixed emotions; it is very symbolic.
I highly recommend this play for anyone who wishes to understand manic depression, as much as they can. Especially because there is a question and answer session at the end, consisting of those who have mental health issues, and representatives from mental health organisations. https://www.chapter.org/momentos
Young Critic Jonathan Evans used Spice Time Credits to access this performance at Chapter cinema. He earned the Time Credits reviewing for Get the Chance. “What is a man? If his chief good and market of his time Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet.
(4 / 5)
The Red Turtle is the kind of movie that doesn’t get made often. A movie that exists, sure of what it is and never attempts to explain itself.
I couldn’t even tell you what the “target demographic” for the movie is. It’s an animated movie, typically for children, but there’s nothing cute or funny happening, nothing scary or brutal either so not specifically for adults. Could this just be a movie for people?
The plot for this movie is so minimal. Man wakes on a shore and finds that he is stranded on an island. What does he do then? Survive and try to get back to civilisation. He tries building a raft but it keeps getting destroyed by a large red turtle (hence the title). This leads to other things and eventually he is joined by a woman and then a son comes along.
This movie exists without any spoken words of dialogue, only movements and images. The lead gives off the occasional huff and puff and a scream here and there, but no full words. This means that the visuals have to ring with absolute clarity, whatever the Man is doing or where he is has to be immediately obvious. Without the dialogue it must fall on the sound and music to keep us engaged on the audio level. Every swish of the waves, footsteps on sand or rock is perfectly clear and adjusted to the right level. Laurent Perez Del Mar delivers an emotional and at other times ethereal score that infuses itself so well with the images onscreen that the two harmonise in the most beautiful way.
The drawing style, particularly with the people, is more European. Like the works of Herge, thick, clear lines with black dots for eyes and vivid colours. The animation is constantly smooth and on-model. It is the backgrounds that have sharpest rendering to them, we are able to see every leaf on the trees and plants that grow on the ground as well as seeing way into the background.
This movie, I admit, a challenge to write for. It is so simple, to experience the product is the most thrilling part but to deeply describe it is indeed the challenge. It simply operates at such a minimal, smooth passe.
Who is this movie for? What was it’s purpose? Well it was beautiful and technically very impressive. But who exactly do I think the marked for it is and how to promote it? But maybe we don’t always need that from this medium that can deliver us so much. Maybe sometimes we are allowed to sit back and see and hear a journey and simply be moved by it.
“Lightning Path | Llwybr Mellt combines skilled puppetry with beautiful animated projections and original music, to tell a tale of our times. Ella wonders why her family farm is flooding. Her Grandfather worries about eels not coming up the river anymore. On a magical journey with Harri the flying hare to changing landscapes across the world. Ella meets curious creatures and people that help her learn new ways of understanding and caring.”
Kathryn : “I went to see Lightning Path|Llwybr Mellt from Small World Theatre with my two daughters; aged 10 and 12 at Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff. Going in to the theatre we were asked to sit near the front, which immediately proved how British everyone was, not wanting to sit next to anyone else, when there was the space to leave gaps. We were faced with three trunks on stage in front of a screen. My daughter asks why, I explain there will be a mixture of puppetry and animation.
We are initially surprised when we discover the performers were already on stage, which causes some giggling from behind us. We are introduced to the characters. Some of the audience is confused when Harri the hare starts talking in Welsh. When Harri speaks, Ella repeats his message in English, but while it seems obvious to the adults in the audience that she is acting as translator, not all the children seem to get it. Ella also sang in Welsh, without translation. Although I don’t personally speak Welsh, I thought it was a meaningful attempt at making an inclusive, bilingual piece, but it made the dialogue seem bulky. Having to translate Harri constantly, slowed it and made it word heavy. I wondered if doing it in one language at a time might have helped it flow better, or finding a different way to translate the two languages. (Obviously words on a screen wouldn’t have worked for everybody, due to the age of most of the audience). This production was signed too, which I thought was great, and I could see the benefit of this for some of the audience members.
The story told of Ella and her Grandfather, the flooding and the lack of eels. This led Ella and Harri to travel the world in search of the missing eels, which then led her to the realisation that “Man” was to blame for ice melting in the Arctic, trees being felled in the rainforest, desertification, and plastic in the oceans. I felt the story tried to fit a lot in to an hour piece, it felt very full and a little rushed, with the music and animation being a welcome break in the speed.
The puppetry was very well done, especially the movement of the hare, I enjoyed the shadow puppetry on screen, and how they mixed it with animation, and the basic set changes using the trunks, fabric, and lighting. The use of torches to show the eels, included the audience, and again got the attention of those young children who were finding the hour more of a struggle.
I left feeling like it was a work in progress in terms of the dialogue/story. This was because it felt a little rushed trying to fit in so much information, introduce so many characters, and environments and explain the ecological issues. Then how this linked in with the eels, and all the while translating Harri’s input, in an hour show. I almost wanted Ella and Harri’s story about learning about the environment to be introduced more simply, and her curiosity to be enough. The background story of her grandfather, the cow, the eels and the lightning, explained why Ella was curious, because she could see the environmental impact in her own back yard. It inspired her to find out more, and, after her trip, inspired her to do something about it, but this almost felt like a whole separate story. Ella asked her grandfather to plant trees to stop their land flooding, this may have encouraged younger children to think about what their influence can be or what they can do, especially with the vivid imagery of the sea turtle and the plastic in the ocean.
It was easy to see how much work and artistry had gone into this production. I think that the hour length was perfect for the very young audience, but personally think that the dialogue could have been edited down.” Sylvia (12) : “It was good in some parts, but quite boring in others. I liked the animation on the screen and the way they used the props. I would recommend it for children below the age of 10. I liked the way they talked about saving the planet, but they could have made it easier to understand.” Charli (10) : “I think it was quite boring because I couldn’t really understand it. I think it would be good for kids younger than me. It also encourages people not to throw rubbish everywhere.”
A BSL subtitled video review of You’ve Got Dragons by Taking Flight Theatre Company performed at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff reviewed by Steph Back.
“A delightful tale of one child’s journey to come to terms with their dragons, told in Taking Flight’s unique style. With toe-tapping music, this highly visual, sensitive production is a humorous and touching exploration of the ‘dragons’ we all face.
A fully accessible intergenerational show featuring creative captioning, BSL and audio description it is a treat for all the family … and remember ‘no dragon is more powerful than YOU’!”
Creating opportunities for a diverse range of people to experience and respond to sport, arts, culture and live events. / Lleisiau amrywiol o Gymru yn ymateb i'r celfyddydau a digwyddiadau byw