Tag Archives: featured

Review, Yr Amgueddfa, S4C by Gareth Williams

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Two of my screenwriting heroes went head-to-head a couple of weeks ago. On BBC1, the master of social realism, Jimmy McGovern, brought us the incredible Time; and on S4C, thriller-extraordinaire Fflur Dafydd gave us the heritage-crime drama Yr Amgueddfa. The former may have been getting all the plaudits but the latter has not been without its supporters. The most prominent, Russell T Davies, has been shouting about it in the Radio Times no less. And deservedly so. For Fflur Dafydd has again created a drama that is well written, intricately woven, gradually builds tension, and offers plenty of twists and turns.

At first, it appears that Della (Nia Roberts) is the main character in the show. The opening scene sees her deliver her first speech as newly-appointed Director of the National Museum of Wales. The focus on her and her family gives the impression that these characters are going to be the bedrock of the series. And in some sense, they are. All have their own intriguing storylines that help flesh the drama out, making it a patchwork of stories that all, somehow, end up connecting as the series progresses. But the appearance of a mysterious young man called Caleb (Steffan Cennydd) in the grand entrance hall of the Museum in those first few moments, and his obvious attraction to Della, acts a bit like a red herring as, far from being the antagonist, he emerges over the course of six episodes as an empathetic protagonist.

It is testament to the clever writing of Fflur Dafydd and Steffan Cennydd’s subtle performance that Caleb is imbued with an ambiguity that keeps the viewer guessing his real motives throughout. One minute he appears vulnerable and fragile; the next, suspicious and manipulative. He seems to be seducing Della at one point, earning her trust to gain access to files from the Museum. Then, at another turn, he seems genuinely in love with her and self-loathing in his actions. Dafydd really plays with our perceptions of the character, as she does with so many here. This is what she is best at: subverting our expectations and playing with the objectivity of truth. Cennydd, for his part, ensures that this is achieved through minimal expression that is precise in its execution; and a deceptive amount of flat emotion that keeps us wondering who he is and what his intentions are.

Nia Roberts may be formidable in the role of Della, but it is Cennydd as Caleb that emerges as the most fascinating person in Yr Amgueddfa. It may not be as high-octane as its sister production, Y Llyfrgell, but it is as absorbing in its mystery and suspense. The fabulous sets and expansive scenes may have been a result of Covid protocols but they also give the impression of a sleek and modern Wales that is far removed from the rural stereotype. Fflur Dafydd has again collaborated with producer Paul Jones to create a series that is full of colourful characters, none of whom are wasted, all caught up in their own well-written subplots that gradually feed into the grand narrative. It has clearly struck a chord with viewers given its extended run on Clic and BBC iPlayer. So if you haven’t seen it yet, make it a priority for your summer viewing. You won’t regret it.

Reviewed by
Gareth Williams

Review, Refuge, Katie Duncan, The Space, By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

One can only imagine persecution, domestic violence, other awful circumstances that lead you to leave you home, to flee all you know just for protection.

Refuge by Katie Duncan brings these feelings to the stage. Featuring the story of 3 women, this production tells their tale in a Woman’s refuge. All stemming from different backgrounds, different ages and with different reasons for being there, we get to see their relationships, good and bad, their fears, their life progressions and what those working and helping them also have to deal with.

Usually at The Space, everything is on the one stage but for Refuge, they have spread out to the sides, creating the kitchen and bedrooms. They effortlessly make the set feel like a hostel-like home, with the small amount of characters still being in and out of each other’s pockets, the stress of living with one another palpable over the niggling issues and in a way, the small scale of the venue helps create that atmosphere and let the narrative fill the room.

With the different backgrounds, religions, cultures, ages and so on, the stories brought are vast and so different, but still so similar with how they have reached out for help from the refuge. Each story is taken with real respect, and shows that the relationships that can be created, no matter how different you are from one another, are also so special. But it also doesn’t shy away from conflict. Even with things in common, not everyone gets along, not everyone lacks judgement to and from others and so while they flee from conflict, it can also be found in their refuge.

Each performer brings their character effortlessly for the stage that it does feel as if you are interrupting, breaking the fourth wall. They interact with each other as people who have known each other for ever, and so the naturalism is completely felt.

Refuge is a really interesting, microscopic look at Women’s Refuge, the troubles that woman face from all over the world but also how important support of other woman in this is, how important friendship is, and how both of these help in the safety of woman who unfortunately face these awful circumstances.

Review, What The Ladybird Heard, Julia Donaldson, Palace Theatre By Hannah Goslin

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

The best critic for a children’s show, are the children themselves. I was lucky enough to take my 3 year old nephew, an avid reader and Julia Donaldson fan, to see What The Ladybird Heard at the West End located, Palace Theatre.

Walking up to the theatre, the original book in his bag, he pointed out the poster on the outside in complete excitement. A rainbow ballooned archway was set up for the queue and ticket check, and straight into the auditorium, the stage was set out already ready for our viewing. His eyes were wide and so was his mouth in awe.

What The Ladybird Heard is a wonderful show about a farm yard with an array of the usual animals, including a prize cow. Two local thieves devise a plan to steal the prize cow, but their plan is foiled when the, usually silence, Ladybird hears their plan and involves the animals to scupper their attempt at stealing the cow.

My nephew has read the book many times, but I, myself, had no idea the premise of this production. As an adult, I loved the concept – it was easy to follow, it was fun and full of mischief and learning opportunities for children. The production takes the book and changes some of the written to a song, adds other songs, with dance and jaunty movements across the stage. This is fun and you find yourself often dancing along.

The Ladybird, Cats and prize Cow are already there and available, but a wonderful sequence occurs when the farm hands use bits and pieces on the farm to create the other animals for the tale. This is so fun when you try to guess what they are developing, what noise the animal may make, and this makes it full of magic and curiosity.

There are plenty of opportunities for audience engagement, with the encouragement for children to sing, to make the animals noises, to boo and hiss and cheer. As for my nephew, he stared in awe the entire time, my sister informing me that this means he is really enjoying it – a brilliant sign. Even offering him a drink and snacks throughout meant putting it in his eyeline because nothing else could take him away from the stage.

The set and props are so well thought out, with great attention to details. The paper flowers grow up the wall when they are watered, the sun and moon come up and down in the background, while most of the animals are moved by the performers, you soon forget this as they are so cute to look at and so funny when they get involved.

The performers themselves are so talented – at no point did they corpse or lose focus, when at times it could have been easy to do so with the silly, funny additions made. Along with recorded music, the performers add music and soundscapes using live instruments which I always think is a great thing to add to a children’s show, giving them a chance to see something they may have never seen or heard. They also sing live, with great voices and well thought out harmonies, the songs themselves are easy to pick up and after a sentence or two, you find yourself singing along yourself.

What The Ladybird Heard is perfection. It is funny, it is colourful, witty and well paced. As an adult, I found myself encapsulated, singing along, and enjoying every aspect, even guessing what would happen next. My nephew, was stunned into silence and when it finished, could not stop talking about what he saw on stage. It is the perfect production to watch with theatres opening up and to get children into theatre.

Review: Labyrinth Diet, Laura Horton, The Space, By Hannah Goslin

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

I’ve noticed over the last few years, along with celebrating bodies more, plus size being more accepted, and the new term I found this year of “mid-size”, there have been more and more productions about fatphobia, body acceptance and the mental health surrounding this. Which is important and necessary.

This production comes at a special time in my own life. After personal trauma, I found myself over a year ago having put a lot of weight on and being very unwell. When the pandemic hit, my life changed, and after losing a lot of weight, I currently sit at where I had always been on the scale, although yo-yo-ing to slimmer and back to this weight, most of my adult life until 5 years ago. Therefore, the talk about body positivity, health and weight is a big part of my life, and always has been as someone who has been on a diet since they were 8 years old.

I fear I have to a degree of subconscious bias in this review and how I felt about it as someone who has been “average”, severely overweight and unwell with it, and unhealthily thin.

Labyrinth Diet is set at a clothes swapping party, where the main character goes through her inner thoughts and feelings while battling her “friends” and their “perfect bodies”. In a sort of caveat, there is a line where the character makes it clear that she is not overweight but of an average size. And while this is appreciated as the actress clearly reflects this physically, therefore we are not at a “I’m obease” but actually, the actress is average which is frustratingly shown in media and body positivity plays I have seen, I struggled overall with this approach.

This is not to say that no one on any weight spectrum does not have the right to be self conscious, have hang ups and be upset with their body, but while the character goes on about her thighs, her belly, chub rub, not touching food in front of these shallow other character’s, it just feels hard to accept and to see yourself in, when, from a personal experience, you have been at all spectrums but know that at the unhealthy weights (overweight or underweight) these thoughts are so much more, with the points trying to be made in the writing lacking support and often being shallow, not trying to bring across how it effects a person mentally and physically.

The direction of the play chose to go with the one actress playing her main character but swapping into the other characters. Anjelica Serra is a brilliant actress; the ability to change into at least 5 other characters, all clearly being different, physically jumping from spot to spot on stage, i’m in awe at how she didn’t just pass out half way. However, I couldn’t help but feel like this was something you try in acting training, making it feel slightly unpolished and unnecessary. Either other actors could be involved, even just 1 to play the other characters or the writing itself could have had the main character speaking into the void, and responding to silence. At one point when the character/actress is exhausted from jumping side to side, it does mirror the exhaustion of how she feels in society with herself but that is where it stops. This concept needed to run through the entire play.

What I did appreciate is the elements when the character plays out these fictious scenes of euphoria, or conversations that feel like the “happy ending” only for her to be honest and say, it never happened. It’s too easy for the characters to become perfect people and for the ending to be what you expect. But to be honest, who out of us doesn’t really follow through with those moments of being courageous and confident? Hands up people.

In conclusion, Labyrinth Diet has all the basis to be a poignant play but is still quite far off reaching that goal. It feels like it still needs a clear picture on what it really is about and what we, as audiences are to get from it.

Announcing a year of activity with Ar y Dibyn for people affected by addiction

Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru – in collaboration with Literature Wales, Adra (Tai/Housing) and the lead artist Iola Ynyr – are delighted to announce a year of activity for people affected by addiction through the project Ar y Dibyn. This new development has been made possible thanks to the support of the programme HARP ( Health, Arts, Research, People), financed by the Arts Council of Wales, and Y Lab (Cardiff University and Nesta).

Ar y Dibyn gives people affected by addiction  – whether they themselves are living with addiction, or supporting other people with their addiction – the opportunity to come together and share those stories in a creative way and through the medium of Welsh. With the artists Iola Ynyr and Mirain Fflur at the helm, the aim of the workshops is to promote creativity to celebrate the possibilities of addiction, rather than the obstacles it presents, and to develop heart-felt creative work to share more widely. Iola Ynyr, lead artist and founder of Ar y Dibyn, said:
“It’s a pleasure to begin another series of Ar y Dibyn workshops within a year of activity funded by HARP. It takes great courage to participate in activities such as these after periods of isolation in the grips of addiction. But we offer an environment of acceptance without having to reveal any details. Creativity is the tool we will be using to open the door to our inner treasure. We look forward to discovering what will be created by our participants over the coming year!”

This year of activity will expand on earlier projects held face to face at Galeri, Caernarfon, and on-line during the lockdown periods. One participant who took part in a workshop at the end of 2020 said:
Fear held me in a tight grip, and I didn’t mention to a living soul apart from my husband that I was attending the workshops. Fear, shame, nervousness… but by the end I was looking forward to the next session. I hadn’t realised that there was an intention to create a film or script or anything – I had no end goal in sight, I just wanted to give myself some time and space to recover, to be in a room with people who were similar to me, people who understood, and to have the opportunity and the permission, in a way, to be myself, in my own language.”

With support from the North Wales Area Planning Board for Substance Misuse, Adferiad Recovery and Stafell Fyw, Ar y Dibyn also highlights the importance of the relationship between the arts and the fields of health and well-being, and responds to the need to develop the support that is available through the medium of Welsh. Professional health specialists are at hand in every creative session to give support as required. Rhian A. Davies, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru’s Executive Producer, said:

“We are very grateful for this grant provided by Nesta, as part of their HARP (Health, Arts, Research, People) scheme, to develop the Ar y Dibyn project that gives people throughout Wales living with addiction an opportunity to come together to share their stories in a creative way and through the medium of Welsh. Our ambition is for the project to become permanent – in collaboration with partners in the health, care and third sectors, both current and new – and to show the importance of the role of the arts in recovery and health, and the health and well-being of Welsh-speakers.”

The HARP programme also focuses on giving the arts an opportunity to play a leading role in the health and well-being of the people of Wales. Rosie Dow, HARP’s Programme Manager for the Arts and Health, said:

“We’re delighted to be working with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, Iola and their partners to explore how Ar y Dibyn can reach as many people affected by addiction as possible. We know that there is a need for Welsh-language creative interventions to support people’s recovery and wellbeing, and the team’s combination of passion and expertise will really help to change peoples’ lives for the better. HARP is all about how innovative projects like this can grow and become embedded in health and care in the long term, so we look forward to exploring with the team how that might be possible.”

The first series of Ar y Dibyn workshops in this new year of activity started on 6 July 2021 – but a warm welcome is extended to any participants or artists who are interested in joining the project. Go to theatr.cymru/arydibyn for information.

“A Real Celebration of Creative Resilience” Designer Brad Caleb Lee on Your Voice at Wales Millennium Centre.

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

Hi Guy, it’s great to meet you and be here for the interview and to share some about the exhibition with your readers.

A transplant from Alabama, I’m a visual dramaturge with a diverse practice – from set, costume, and projection design to assistant directing to more management/producing/development roles across a variety of genres, from opera to theatre for young audiences to new and queer works.  I am the resident designer for Chicago Fringe Opera; was the program coordinator for Prague Quadrennial 2019; run the online magazine Ascending focused on emerging theatre designers, scenographers, and visual dramaturges; designed the award-winning British pavilion Make/Believe at PQ 2015; and have had work selected for World Stage Design 2017.

For me theatre is the ultimate art of collaboration – which I define as the exploration of ideas that do not exist until everyone is in the room. Really great theatre (wether narrative, musical, dance, opera, physical, or any other type) thrives on the intersection of a diverse group of people bringing their talents together to create a unique experience for audiences, and I try to always approach my work in that spirit.

What got you interested in the arts?

Originally it was music – I have vivid memories of these concerts on public television with two nested grand pianos playing full orchestral scores, so for most of my childhood I wanted to be a concert pianist. This led into choir and eventually theatre. However, I have always been interested in both the theatre making itself and the wider system, having studied business management and organizational theory at the undergraduate level. I’ve also always had a deep love of literature and history which have fed into theatre, as well as growing up around some great storytellers.

Some examples of Brads work below

You are curating a new exhibition at the Wales Millennium Centre called Your Voice  which runs from 22 July – 29 Aug 2021. On the WMC website, the exhibition is described as “During the first lockdown the Wales Millenium Centre invited people of all ages to share their stories and experiences during this challenging time through art. The call out captured the imagination of the nation, and you received hundreds of pieces that responded to lived experiences over the past year – from lockdown to Black Lives Matter, to reclaiming the environment and our hopes for the future. Artworks were sent from all parts of Wales – from Pembrokeshire to Newport, Builth Wells to Caernarfon, and by artists aged 4 to 90 years old. The pieces include paintings, spoken word recordings, digital art, photography, installation, mixed media and film.”

How did you decide what artwork to exhibit and what are your hopes for the project?

Actually we didn’t decide in most cases – that is to say that almost all of the art in the exhibition was submitted through the open call and there was no curation in regards to what was included – everyone who submitted has their piece on display! There are a few pieces which were commissioned from community-based artists and some pieces which have come to the centre through partner organizations or other community groups, but overall the exhibition has emerged from the wide range of work submitted through the “Voices of Change” open call. We have also really striven to treat each of the over 400 individual pieces with real integrity – treating each equally as a wonderful and exciting contribution and having all photographs and digital creations professionally printed.

A selection of artwork from the exhibtion below

What I was charged to do was more curating the experience looking at the visitor’s journey through the building and how the art would all be installed. We looked at a number of approaches and ultimately settled on a series of thematic galleries, which give some sort of narrative frame to each group of works. We have also tried to create a unique one-way journey through the building, which includes all the major public spaces, three different views into the Donald Gordon theatre (including walking through a tech booth), and number of interactive engagement points. I have sought to be inspired by the spaces in the building and to create dynamic conversations between the physical space and the works in being placed in them.

Examples of Brad’ design for the exhibition below

I hope that people get a sense of the diverse communities and groups that not only make up Cardiff but all of Wales and of the creative force that lives here. The exhibition should not only be reflective, but also a real celebration of the creative resilience that has lived on and thrived over the last 18 months.

Detail-of-Crocheted-Tree-by-Flow-Maugran
Samantha Brow WSNBR

You are also exhibting work from the Theatre Design course at RWCMD, how did they come to be involved?

Actually, we are exhibiting work of emerging designers from 4 different courses across Wales –University of South Wales, Aberystwyth University, Coleg y Cymoedd, and RWMCD. We have some of the best training in the world for theatre designers in Wales, and many of the course have been industry leaders in the last year of finding ways to continue practical training and making work under all the COVID challenges, and I wanted to celebrate these amazing artistic incubators that contribute so much to Wale’s cultural life.

When I was offered the role of curator, part of it was a commission to design an installation to be part of the exhibition. Instead of which, I decided to showcase the work of these emerging artists working in Wales. The last year has particularly hit emerging theatre designers, who are often making less than minimum wage to begin with in addition to the emotional and mental stress that the industry places on those just starting out.  And yet, there are a good number of designers who are working in Wales regularly with smaller fringe companies but are often overlooked by more established producers who go after London-based designers. So, I wanted to really bring some of these creatives to the forefront.

We are hoping that the general public gain a greater understanding of what designer’s do, with 4 of our designers offering more in depth looks into their process. It might also inspire some young people who have not considered theatre design to think of it as a possible career path or to pursue at university. There are so many opportunities developing now for those interested to get involved and for fresh voices to be developed, and I hope that this part of the exhibition plays some small role in encouraging people to become storytellers themselves.

You are an ex RWCMD student yourself what designers inspire you practice? 

There are so many thst I find that really difficult to answer. Last summer I was on a podcast called Beyond the Lights and on listening back I realized I mostly just talked about other designers.

I’m definitely inspired by the work of Gary McCann and of the late Paul Brown, but also that of Sophie Jump, Vicki Mortimer, Stefano Poda, John MacFarlane, Colin Richmond, Leslie Travers, Luboš Hrůza, and so many others. I’m particularly interested in how different genres and disciplines intersect and can create new or more impactful audience experiences.

 Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision. Are you aware of any barriers that creatives in Wales face? If you are, what might be done to remove these barriers?

Specifically in theatre, I think there are three big barriers. One, at least as an emerging designer, is the list of skills that you need to even get someone to look out the window – let alone get your foot in the door – is immense and basically only acquirable through doing a good university degree, which are often competitive entry. However, courses like RWCMD are eager to have a greater range of voices on their courses, but really struggle in connecting with young people who might consider that a career. So the whole industry has to do the work directly and support degree courses in planting the seeds early with people from all socio-economic backgrounds that encourages and inspires them to pursue theatre as a career.

Secondly, the performing arts industry is almost exclusively operated on a “who you know” basis, so there is a huge pressure on networking and continuously putting yourself out there despite a continuous stream of rejection (or in most cases unanswered inquiries). Adverts for roles as a theatre creative (whether designer, director, or choreographer) are few and far between, with theatre’s inviting artists to make work with them most of the time. So it becomes a very insular system with breaking in being a game of sheer luck. When I moved back to Wales in autumn of 2019 I reached out to almost every company I could find in Cardiff and the surrounding area, some of whom I had met previously or had mutual connections that encouraged me to introduce myself, and only 3 even returned my emails, and all of those responses were “thank you for your interest but we have the people we like to work with and have our next three seasons already planned out”. I can’t think of any other industry like that.

And finally, there is a real barrier to establishing yourself in this career, which is now at least being discussed more widely thanks to platforms like Scene Change, but still in nowhere near as honest or dynamic terms as it needs to be addressed.

Most emerging theatre designers are working obscene hours – sometimes 60- or 80-hour weeks – making far less than minimum wage trying to make it all work and often getting almost no credit for their contributions to productions or projects. It is absolutely emotionally, mentally, and financially draining. Many of the people I would have said would be the greatest designers of my generation have already left the industry – people whose work was so beautiful that it would catch my breath and leave me speechless in brilliance far beyond their experiences – they have moved onto other brilliant careers, and that is terribly sad. The industry really is overdue a reckoning about career development and paying people a living wage at all levels.

With the roll out of the Covid-19 vacancies, the arts sector is hopeful audiences will return to venues and theatres. If theatres want to attract audiences what do you think they should do?

Venues and producers really need to consider and actively listen to their audiences. They need to find authentic voices and ways of connecting with those who they want to attend the work and ask themselves how they can better serve the communities that surround them, whether that is a small local organisation or one with a national pull. Far too often decision makers think they know what audiences want or engage projects which are only superficially giving voice but at the heart are quite hollow or ego driven by an artist. Why this story? Why now? And why is this person (or group of people) telling it?

And a big soap box of mine is don’t just ask global majority artists to work on or tell stories that are uniquely theirs. Engage artists and ask them what stories they want to tell and support them in doing so!

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

It would definitely be smaller companies that are doing really dynamic work both in engaging young people and new audiences and those taking chances on new creatives! There are some really wonderful people working hard to produce work on tiny budgets and what they could do with more funding would really be industry shifting.

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

The shear breadth of quality work that happens across Wales. But also I look around and see so much potential – there are so many places, building, and institutions that are ripe for a renaissance of sorts and I hope that potential really blossoms into an even more dynamic and flourishing global arts scene.

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

I got to sit in on a dress rehearsal of the RWCMD puppetry performances inspired by the Artes Mundi artists – there were some absolutely inspiring moments ranging from reflectively poetic to slapstick style comedy – the creativity and dedication of the first year designers never ceases to amaze me!

RWCMD students with their puppets. Credit Jessica Seren Jones

Review: Finding Percy Erebus, Elephant Talk Theatre, By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Some say that we are asking children to grow up too soon. We open the World to them at too young an age and expect a lot from them. But in some instances, it is so important for children to learn the ways of life.

It is an age old saying that families think it is important to have pets in a child’s life to learn many important lessons of responsibility or love, but mostly to learn about death and losing someone.

Finding Percy Erebus is a different way of explaining this fact of life. An 8 year old child’s friend Percy passes away, and we go through a mysterious World, with many mysterious characters on the search for Percy. Really this is a tale teaching children about love and loss, about growing up and how the world changes.

There’s no messing around with this play. We are introduced to the loss of Percy straight away, leaving the rest of the play to develop from the child’s mind and how they are coping. This is punctuated with comical characters, magic and a complimenting score. Music is often upbeat at the beginning, and with a plink and a plonk; very child like and easy. But soon the music turns dark or into a soundscape to signal the more grown up aspects and the learning moments.

Elephant Talk Theatre have chosen for all voices to be prerecorded. This is helpful for children when they can hear a child’s voice instead of an adult mimicking; the same with adult voices that perhaps mirror their parents or people they know.

The set and props are really simple, which is nice to see in a children’s play. Usually these genres feel the need to fill the stage with colours and sounds and objects that they recognise. However, the minimal bits represent important parts of the story, and the rest are mimed, allowing children to use their imagination but remember the really important items for later on.

Finding Percy Erebus is fun, it is magical, but most importantly is bringing the facts of loss to children in an easy way to understand.

Artists enable care home residents to voice their experiences of the pandemic

A group of artists are working with Age Cymru to hold conversations with care home residents across Wales as part of a project to explore and capture how this group of older people experienced the pandemic.

The project, called Tell Me More, encourages residents to talk about what it was like to live in a care home during lockdown.  Of course, for lots of older people it was a torrid time as many residents and care staff became seriously ill or even died through Covid 19.

Up until now, residents have had little opportunity to voice their experiences of the pandemic. Age Cymru worked with the artists to make contact with residents through Zoom and used open conversations to gather the residents’ thoughts, wishes and experiences.

As the conversations were taking place, the artists sketched a portrait of the resident and sent it to them as a thank you in recognition of their participation. The artists then applied animation software to the sketches and the recorded conversations to produce a unique and creative method of capturing residents’ voices.

So far residents from homes in Anglesey, Fishguard, Mold, Porthcawl, and Port Talbot have taken part in Tell Me More. With funding from the Welsh Government, Age Cymru will take the project to more care homes across Wales so it can capture the voices of more than 100 residents by December 2021.

Age Cymru’s chief executive, Victoria Lloyd says: “During the height of the pandemic, care home residents experienced some of the strictest lockdown conditions in Wales. Most residents were unable to receive visits from family and friends and, at the same time, they were unable to do any of their usual activities or visits. It was even more difficult for those residents who were transferred directly from hospital to the care home as not only were they cut off from their family and friends but they had little opportunity to socialise and get to know existing residents.

“It is crucial that we hear the experiences of residents and understand how they have felt over the last year.  It is also wonderful to hear those experiences not just in peoples’ own words, but with the recordings, in their own voices too.

“Remarkably, some of the residents said their biggest concern was not being able to reassure their loved ones living outside of the care home. While others touched upon missing quite simple things such as going to the cinema, eating an ice cream at the sea-side or going to church.

“Tell Me More has given us a remarkable insight into how care home residents experienced lockdown and we look forward to hearing more of their voices in the months ahead.”

Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan said: “Care Home residents have been some of the most affected by the pandemic. After being isolated from family and friends, it is fantastic that we have been able to fund a project which gives care homes residents a voice and brings their experience to life. It is vital we hear these stories as we look to move forward and recover from the pandemic.”

Review For The Grace Of You Go I (Online). by Alan Harris. A Theatr Clwyd production, co​-commissioned by Wiltshire Creative by Richard Evans

Many of us have bemoaned the lack of live theatre over the past months, the atmosphere, the immediacy, the inventiveness behind a good production.  Would a virtual presentation be able to compensate and provide a stimulating theatrical experience?

Online interaction has been something that many of us have had to get used to and is now such a familiar form of media for both business and entertainment.  Would it work for a play that cries out for a live audience? 

Alan Harris’ play, ‘For The Grace Of You Go I’  is a dark comedy that explores the theme of mental illness, in particular a personality disorder.  It demonstrates how illness and disadvantage fits in a context of a ruthless, profit driven society that shows little understanding and still less sympathy for those who find themselves unable to conform to a standard sense of normality. The main character, Jim (Rhodri Meilir) is forced into a job creation scheme or else lose the benefits he needs to survive.  However he is unable to keep up with the demands of work or the strictures placed upon him.  Why should a pepperoni pizza have 6 pieces of sausage arranged in a circle?

Central to the play is an examination of reality, individuality and purpose in life.  Jim suffers from a depersonalization=derealisation disorder where he has a repeated experience of viewing himself from outside his body.  This has a debilitating and demoralizing effect on him and effectively prevents him from accessing work and relationships as he would like, leading him into a spiral of depression.  However, he expresses this with an honesty that contrasts markedly with Mark (Darren Jeffries) who comes across as self-assured, successful with an aspirational lifestyle.  This however is a sham and his life is effectively a lie. 

With both characters being dysfunctional, the play explores the support society should give to those with a mental illness. Remi Beasley’s character, Irina is the person who promotes the back to work scheme designed to help reconstruct the lives of those like Jim.  She presents an enthusiastic, sympathetic persona to him that is sadly crushed by the target driven, profit oriented company they work for.  Her frustration is initially directed to Jim but as she grows in knowledge and affection for him, this is directed towards the soulless nature of the company and the empty promises it makes.  This very much mirrors the experience of those marginalised in our society who seek to reconstruct their lives.

The play is drawn to a memorable climax when Jim and Mark meet at a film club.  They are both heavily influenced by a film by Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismaki, ‘I hired a hitman’.  To escape his despondence, Jim attempts to mimic the film by hiring Mark to be a hitman who will end his suffering. 

The set was highly effective using a simple backdrop of three primary colours that allowed a change of mood and scene to occur seamlessly.  It helped focus the attention on the actors and dialogue rather than distract the eye as some more complex backdrops can do. 

It was superbly acted by the three players, whose dialogue and interplay was slick and convincing.  However, while there were many occasions when the dialogue brought out a smile, there was a smouldering intensity about the production that drew towards an inevitable, tragic conclusion.  To me, the most important conclusion was that the authentic life must prevail and be lived with integrity no matter what the circumstance.  This is followed closely by the searing indictment of a harsh, money driven society lacking compassion and the ability to help those with significant mental health problems.  As such it is a timely reminder that after this current pandemic, there will be plenty of people in need of substantial support. 

Did the play successfully translate to a virtual environment?  It was certainly riveting viewing and well worth a watch, but I stand by the impression that this is no replacement for a live performance, good as it was.  It is a convenient format, where you can pause, refill your glass and come back to it, but the flat screen dulls the senses to the poignancy playing out in front of you.  Congratulations to Theatr Clwyd for having the ambition to film and broadcast this production.  It was a welcome treat after being starved of theatre for so long, however, it will be great to walk through the doors and experience once again live theatre in reality. 

Review Hamilton by Ethan Clancy

My name is Alexander Hamilton. My name is Alexander Hamilton. And there’s a million things I haven’t done. But just you wait, just you wait”

That is the very first line spoken by Alexander Hamilton, and in it, we can see his character, he is nervous, repeating what he say in two instances, but yet, their is a era of confidence in his words, telling the world what he is going to do, and for them to just wait. Written, acted and published by musical genius Lin-Manuel Miranda, who was able to provide a boost of energy to perhaps an extremely boring subject. With a record breaking 16 nominations, and 11 awards. He clearly did something right. This particular version was uploaded onto Disney+, the show being filmed in the Richard Rodgers Theatre, over a course of three shows, each edited together in order to give a cinematic feel to this musical. Despite it technically not being a play, more of a film (Being nominated for the Best Motion Picture in the Musical or Comedy section) the editing is seamless, and it goes out of it’s way to make you feel like you are actually there. First performed on the 20th of January 2020, this version was released on the 3rd of July 2020, despite the original 2021 release, with the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, the release was boosted by a year. Telling the story of the Founding Fathers of America, Miranda was inspired by the 2004 novel Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, it took him six years to write this, performing the first song at the White House, directed by Thomas Keil, this production combines the generations of music, in a masterpiece that is Non-stop. 

In Act I, orphan Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda) makes his way to 1771 New York from his island of Navis, with dreams of joining the American Revolution, as opposed to Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr) who prefers to wait until the opportunity to come to him, advising Hamilton to do the same. However Hamilton disagrees, as he speaks his mind to the world of New York, impressing fellow revolutionists, the anti slavery John Laurens (Anthony Romos), the French Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette (Daveed Diggs,) and the tailor Hercules Mulligan (Okieriete Onaodowan), however, as they sing to the revolution, King George the III (Jonathan Groff) insist on his authority, as the true war starts, and after impressing General George Washington (Christopher Jackson), Hamilton becomes his right hand man, and later at a ball, he meet’s and later marries Eliza Schuyler (Phillipa Soo), whilst her sister Angelica Schuyler (Renee Elise Goldsberry) supresses her own feelings for him, as conditions get even worse for the American’s, La Fayette and Mulligan leave, whilst John Laurens enters a duel with Charles Lee (Jon Rua) who speaks against Washington leadership, after this incident, Washington orders Hamilton to return home, where he discovers his wife is pregnant with his son. La Fayette returns to the battlefield with French aid and convinces Washington to call Hamilton back, as they engage in the battle of Yorktown, which they win due to Mulligan acting as a spy. With this victory, and their newly secured freedom, Hamilton son Philip is born, but he hears word that Laurens has be killed and he and Burr (Who is still waiting for his opportunity) plunge themselves into their work, as the now President George Washington invites Hamilton to join him as Secretary of the Treasury.                                                                                                         

In Act II, Thomas Jefferson (Daveed Digs), who was acting as the ambassador of France, which has now entered its own revolution, returns alongside his friend James Madison (Okieriete Onaodowan) and immediately clashes with Hamilton. Under stress from his work, Hamilton enters an affair with Maria Reynolds (Jasmine Cephas Jones) whilst Eliza is away on a visit to her father. The affair is later discovered by her husband James Reynolds (Sydney James Harcourt) who blackmails Hamilton into giving him money, in exchange, he keeps quiet about the affair. Later, Burr, who watches Hamilton, Jefferson and Madison come to an agreement about the nation’s capital, becomes envious over Hamilton power, and finally begins to gain power, taking the role of Eliza’s father. Jefferson and Madison Agree to work with burr in order to find a way to discredit Hamilton, as George Washington steps down from president, as John Adams (Who does not make an appearance in the show) becomes president, firing Hamilton, who in retaliation, publishes a letter to the press, insulting and discrediting Adams, convincing him to one term. Jefferson, Madison and Burr discover the checks sent to James Reynolds and accuse Hamilton of embezzling government funds, forcing Hamilton to admit his affair with Maria Reynolds, ending his political career. Hamilton son’s, Philip (Anthony Romos defends his father’s name, however he is later shot and killed in a duel for this, leading Hamilton into a depression, however when the election of 1800 arrives, between Jefferson and Burr, he chooses to support Jefferson, stating that he would rather have somebody with disagreeable beliefs than no beliefs as president, leading to Jefferson winning. Butt insulted by this, challenges Hamilton to a duel, which he agrees to prostate, Hamilton however in his last moments, aims his pistol at the sky, resulting in him being shot, leading Eliza to tell his legacy, starting up a orphanage for children, like Hamilton, until she dies, like we all do eventually.

The death of Hamilton, in fact, is set up from the very first song, entitled “Alexander Hamilton” (Happening right after Jonathan Groff’s King George welcomes the audiences, kindly asking them to switch their devices off and telling them to enjoy his show, already telling us that this character is self indulgent), this song summarizes the first two decades of Hamilton’s young life, growing up as a son of wedlock, in the slums of a poor. In the very first line he is called a “Bastard”, “Orphan and “Son of a Whore”, these quotes are later used again in the musical, often as a motif to remind the character of his upbringing, the song is sung threw many of Hamilton’s friends and enemies, and Hamilton only speaks when he is asked to identify himself, which makes us familiar with each of the actor. However the song is primarily sung by Aaron Burr, the main antagonist of the show, and he even tells us at the end, when each character tells the audience their connection to Hamilton, he informs us that he is the “damn fool that shot him” his words echoing through the stage, effectively giving away the ending. However, it is much like the Titanic, it focuses more about how they got there, rather than the end result. The pace of the song also reflects the character of Hamilton, specifically his mind. The song starts off slow, however, as Hamilton slowly realizes that in order to live, he must work, it picks up as we can see him writing and writing. 

Another thing that is reflected in these characters is the costume. Every actor is dressed in white at the start of this number, with the expectation of Hamilton, he is the only one left out, showing us his loneliness which he did not conquer until “My Shot”. However, as the play goes on, as Hamilton gives more and more ideas, we see that colour is used significantly much more, and in Act 1 they start of rather grounded and darker, the majority being darker browns, but as the revolution stars, we can see that they are getting more colourful, until they are final their own colour, signifying that they are finally broken free, the costumes themselves are reflective of their times, as well as their different personalities. Hamilton’s primary colour is green, which is fitting since he was the secretary of the treasury. Whilst Thomas Jefferson appears to wear right and much more out tier costumes, showing us his own the top nature. Maria Reynolds wears red, the colour of love, as well as anger, which is what her presence in the show shall later provide. The historical accuracy of the costumes themselves are clear, and when it comes to the fight between Britain and America, we are able to clearly distinguish them. Britain’s uniform appears to be much more old fashioned, and royal, in comparison to America’s scruffy and messy outfits.

The portrayal of Britain is seen mostly through the eyes of America, as a tyrant, however, the few instances we have with Britain, come with the hilarious and light hearted King George the III. In his song, they provide a change of face, in opposition to the fast paced ripping of the Americans. Out of the three songs he sings, each song represents a stage in Hamilton’s life, His first song “You’ll be back” he sing his views on the revolution and how America will be lost without him, and not to fight, otherwise they will die, this song signifies the rise of Hamilton, how came from a gutter rat, to the right hand man of George Washington, whilst the second song “What comes next?” comes after America has won its freedom, King George does not stand around complaining about how they have left him, but instead informs them of the challenges about how hard it is to lead, and that, from now on, they are on their own, this announces respects the start of Hamilton’s political career and the many challenges he shall face. Whilst his third and final song “I know him” he sings about how George Washington is stepping down and his assessment at John Adams is the new president, making fun of him, and claiming that it is going to be fun. This song tells us about Hamilton’s downfall, as well as the basement people shall have at it. His character provides a piece of light hearted comic relief to the audience, and the style and the way he sings represents the old idea’s, whilst the new ideas that the American revolution fight for, are sung thru rap. There is a clear difference between the two, allowing people to easily distress the two countries. I would also like to note that in his final song, King George dances along to the rap, perhaps signalling that he has come to expect America’s freedom, and even ideas. 

The idea that the new ideas are represented is perhaps seen most clearly in “My Shot”. After Hamilton arrives in New York for the first time, he meets with Aaron Burr, and tells him that he wants to join the revolution, but Burr rebuffs him, disappointing Hamilton. Burr prefers to wait by the side, until an opportunity becomes clear, the safest opportunity, keeping his ideas to himself, but Hamilton chooses to say his mind to the word, and daring anyone to challenge him. From their very first introduction, the rivalry of these two characters is clear, from their opposing ideals and it shall keep creating tension between them for the rest of the play, however Hamilton chooses to point of the similarity between Burr and himself, stating that they are both perhaps, but they have gone down different paths. Burr attempts to give each Hamilton a lesson, taking him to a bar where we meet key players for the first act. John Laurens, Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette and Hercules Mulligan, who sing their praises of the revolution an why they are doing it, Laurens in order to end slavery, La Fayette, in hopes that it shall lead to unrest in France, leading to their own freedom and Mulligan in order to advance his social status, they all sing independently, in their own tunes and styles. The only thing they sing together is the revolution. Until Hamilton steps in, no longer able to keep quiet after Burr shuns them, asking him “If you stand for nothing Burr, what will you fall for?” A question that shall haunt Burr for the reminder of the play. Hamilton immensely impresses them with his quick thinking and confidence, and they all join in with him, for once, all their tunes are both together into one voice, no longer disconnected, they are stronger in numbers, which is why the British attempt to break them apart. It also subtly sets up the idea that each character has their shot, and foreshadows later in the play that Hamilton will literally throw away his shot, and the song frequently makes a return whenever a shot arrives for a character, and whether they will take it or not. The song however also highlights the nervous side to Hamilton nature.

Throughout the play, every song is a form of narration, and the characters often break the fourth wall, sometimes for comic relief, or some time to serve as a history lesson. Whenever they do this, the lighting becomes darker, and everything else stops, to show that they are alone, this is most prominent whenever Hamilton sings in the “Eye of a Hurricane”, as he tells the story of how a Hurricane came to his town, destroying it, but he lived. The stage is painted in a blue mess, surrounding Hamilton as only when he amidst the truth to his affair, does sit vanish, for he is no longer alone. It has also been used in smaller ways, such as in “What comes next?” King George is surrounded by a red light, until he says that “I am so blue” stomping her foot to the ground, as it quickie changes to blue, reflecting his mood, however it has deeper meaning, representing where Britain was politically, surrounded by America, which took the colour of blue, whilst Britain was red.  Another instance when the lighting is used is whenever they need to create a room, due to the fact they did not redo each set, it is nothing more than a plain dock, with stairs that move around. This is most noticeable in “The Room Where It Happens”, as Burr sings his heart around, moving from place to place, as he attempts he wants to get into the room where it happens, however. Hamilton, Jefferson and Madison stand in the yellow light, representing the room, but Burr nearly steps on it, staying in the blue, showing that he has not been able to join. 

Aaron Burr serves as, in my opinion, a sympathetic antagonist, and he even states that history shall remember him as the villain in Hamilton’s story. His differences from Hamilton himself are present from his very first song, but whenever he sings with somebody, he is forced to the background, until he is on his own, where he sings his mind, and his reason, and why he shall wait. In the song “Wait for It” Burr sings his heart out to the world, explaining why he waits and waits, for he has too much to risk, and that he doesn’t do it because he is lazy, but because he has to, and this all changes. This all changes in “The Room Where It Happens’ ‘, which in my opinion, is perhaps one of the best, and most unique songs, with the tune of the song having a jazz feel to it. Burr has now stopped waiting, he has faintly found what he is waiting for, but it is motivated out of jealousy for Hamilton rather than his own feelings. The end of the song seven foreshadows where this design shall lead Burr to, with the last word being “Click boom!” I commend the musical for giving Burr a personality, rather than making him a dislikeable evil man, all his choices have firm motivation. However he lacks a physical presence to him, due to the fact he doesn’t commit any violent crimes, until the very end. I will say this though; his method of waiting until he chance arrives is effective. If you look at every other character who is introduced in Act 1, John Laurens, Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette and Hercules Mulligan all disappear, simply because Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette (Daveed Diggs, and yes, that is his full name) and the tailor Hercules Mulligan hey speak their opinions. Laurens is killed for his, La Fayette returns to France, and whilst it is not clearly stated in the play, he was imprisoned for 5 years for following the Americans into revolution, and Mulligan, well nothing particularly bad happens to him, in fact after the war, he became a full time tailor. But if you look at all these people, after Act 1, they are gone, whilst Burr remains, because he waited, like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who waited during Act 1, have taken their opportunity. That, or the same actors acted different characters in Act 2.   

Burr and Hamilton’s relationship is perhaps the most in depth of the play, as their contrasting ideals are present almost since the beginning, however we see that they share the same motivation, they are both doing this for their children. The song “Dear Theodosia” highlights this, as they both sing the same on to their children, saying that they will attempt to make the world a better place for their children no matter what. Conveniently, the two characters eventually meet their duel, as they have become more like one another, near the end, Hamilton has became to walk in straight lines and only speaking when it is needed, due to the harshness of the world shaping him like this, as opposed to his emphatic quick witted character for would not waste a single second. Burr however, ends the play, being loud; he walks in all different directions, which is different from his walk at the start of the play, walking only in straight lines. This small and to be honest, quite misable detail, shows the character how they have become more like one another, and it is equated to that, they have reached their downfall. Burr reached his downfall due to his lack of action in Act 1, in fact, he barely has any impact in Act 1, but in Act 2 he has became more active, due to the fact he was not active enough in Act 1, he no longer want to be ignored, even if he refuses to state his ideals. Another reason he may have started to distrust and dislike Hamilton, was the fact he started to dislike Burr, at the start of “The Room Where It Happens’ ‘ he reuses Burr exact words, inferring that Hamilton does not take Burr seriously. 

Hamilton’s relationships to other characters appear to be a major thread, for example, his relationship to President George Washington, appears to be a father to son relationship, it is flawed, but it is meaningful. His relations to his friends are strong, it was in fact the death of John Laurens that puts her mind back into focus, but all in all, the relationship that I think is most penetrating is, his and Thomas Jefferson relationship. Introduced at the very start of Act 2, Thomas Jefferson is given a similar introduction to Hamilton himself, except, instead of being about how he came from a poor background, we see Thomas bright, colourful, and most of all, rich. In his song “What I’D Miss” near the end, Hamilton arrives and cut’s his own medley into Jefferson’s, further creating tension, and later in “Cabinet Battle” which appears to be a parody of a rap battle, providing a douse of energy into what most people would consider boring. The song becomes more of a personal attack on Jefferson, however, despite everything Jefferson does, with his more sinister nature coming out in “Washington on your side” where we can see his pure hatred of Hamilton come into play. But in “The Election of 1800” Jefferson becomes president, and perhaps, finally a respect has been shown.

Despite all these relationships he has had, the most heart breaking is his relationship with the Schulyer Sisters. Mainly Angelica and Eliza. It is at this point in the play that I feel the pace slows down. Every time a more serious subject is brought in, the songs change from rap to more romantic. For example “Helpless” paints the image of how Eliza and Hamilton met, it is upbeat, and rather sweet, in contrast to the Helpless that Eliza will later experience in the play. The same could be said to “Satisfied” which is in my opinion, a ground-breaking song, not just for the technical feats it is able to achieve, but also a serves as a look into the character of Angelica, during the wedding toast, Angelica rewinds the events to witnesses them from her point of view, as we are told that she falls in loves Hamilton, and she gave up her love for him for her sisters own happiness. These songs are often more emotional than any other song. This emotional tone is not just restricted to love, but friendship, as shown in “The Story of Tonight” which is reprised three times. The first time we hear it, it comes after “My Shot” where the characters have finally shouted their beliefs out into the world. This time, it is quieter, and more personal, sharing and celebrating the revolution, as well as their newfound brotherhood, and the performance reflects this. 

I find it quite disappointing that, whilst the director was able to create these two strong plotlines, that being the more face paced Politics storyline, and the more slowed down romance story line. The two storylines are perfect, however they fail to connect the two together, as, up until “The Reynolds Pamphlet” were they attempt to connect the two together. The transition between the two also spoils the effort of some. For example, during the “The Reynolds Pamphlet” after Hamilton has published the story about his affair in order to end rumours, his enemies, most notably Thomas Jefferson, celebrate and dance in glee, however, the song swiftly changes into “Burn” showing how Eliza has taken the news, the transition feels rushed, they feel disjointed, the tone has significantly changed as well.

There are times that I feel the aspect was effective. “Non-Stop” the final song of Act 1, especially. Whilst I am biased, due to the fact this was my favourite song. The song is fast paced, to the point, and informative, and the final line is a combination of songs, which we have previously heard. The song takes place after the news of John Laurens death, sending Hamilton into his work, where he begins to climb to the top, Angelica moves to London as she is getting married, Eliza beg’s Hamilton to stop working in order to spend time with her, Burr jealousy of Hamilton only grows and Washington invites Hamilton as the Secretary of the Treasury as well as History has his eyes on him, each character sing’s their theme, surrounding Hamilton, Eliza and Angelica more romantic themes of “Helpless” and “Satisfied” by both his eyes, whilst Burr walk around, yelling “Non-Stop” whilst Washington stands above them all, reminding him that “History has its eyes on you” they overwhelm him, (I will note that their are call-back to song’s are present throughout the play, for example, “Blow Us All Way”, Philip sings about his achievements as well as his mind, similar to what Hamilton did at the start of the play, only this time, he does not get the same glory as his father, I would like to point out that the particular song has a child like Lytham too it) until Hamilton own theme of “My Shot” cut through all of them, as he joins Washington, whilst everyone tells him to wait, foreshadowing the conflict he shall face in the form of Thomas Jefferson, as well as the Reynolds. It surprises me that, in smaller instances, this effect has been achieved, but on a whole the show fails to combine the both storylines. 

Another thing I love about the song is the use of the set, as Washington stands above them all, at the side to begin with, however, the stairs then move to the centre of the stage. The use of a movable set is interesting, allowing characters to move without even walking. The set itself is extremely bland however. It has a state, but to both sides, there appears to be a stairwell up on both sides and a raised platform. The use of the raised platform is often used when characters are in different locations, for example in “Yorktown,” Eliza stands up there, as Hamilton sings about how he has to live in order to see her again, the stage itself is different to others due to the fact it is a Revolving Stage, in fact it uses a double rotating stage, which is comely referred to as a Concentric Revolve, allowing for them to have more flexibility, either by spinning in two directions, or at different speeds. This is used again in “Non-Stop” when Angelica fades into the background, the sage taking her to the back whilst Eliza comes into view, and during “Hurricane” as well as “My Shot” whenever Hamilton freezes as we hear the inside of this mind, the remaining actors stand upon it, as it slowly moves around, some holding objects, but as Hamilton speaks louder, it goes faster and faster. 

The pace of some of these songs is extraordinary. In fact the world’s fastest Broadway rap is featured in the number “Guns and Ships’ as La Fayette returns to the battlefield with French aid, and at the fastest speed, he is singing 6.3 words per second. This song is also notable for focusing on one of Hamilton’s friends, as well as highlighting the fact that the war was not only fought through America, but the French as well. Daveed Diggs is by far the most physically active actor, doubling as La Fayette as well as Thomas Jefferson, adding a boost of energy into every scene he is in, La Fayette event foreshadows the fact he will leave in Act 2 in order to fight for freedom in France in his final line. The use of foreshadowing is painfully clear though both acts. Some more obvious than others, as well as seen as a call-back, for example, near the beginning of Act II, Hamilton son’s Philip learn to play the piano as well as speak in French, however he struggles of number seven, which is late the number he shall be shot on during his duel, but perhaps the biggest use of foreshadowing is threw the character of the bullet. Portrayed by the ensemble cast member, Ariana DeBose, she acts as the personification of death. With the expedition of Hamilton mother, she is the first character to die, and every time after, every character she interacts with, will die. For example, she is the last character to be intact with John Lauren’s before his death, as well as informing Philip where the man who has insulted his father has been, and she is the one to hand Aaron Butt the letter he shall write to Hamilton, sealing his fate. 

The use of letter is by far the most commonly used prop. Their are in my opinion, no notable props, but the use of letters as a symbolic thing is seen, every time a letter is sent, it shall either bring good news or bad news, for example, the letter containing the affair shall later end Hamilton career, as well as the letter informing him of John Laurens death, and they bring news as well. “One Last Time” especially. The letter tell the actual evidence of what George Washington said as he stepped down as president, the song itself is wonderful as Washington sings about everything he had learned as he asks his friend to write it down, and as his declaration is read to the public, starting in Hamilton voice, he slowly goes into the background as Washington takes control of the letter, telling them about his choice, until he is the only voce. It is starting however, that Washington is the only character who is treated with any respect by all members, Jefferson claims that Hamilton is nothing without Washington, however he is immediately disproven after Washington steps down as president, and he even uses the same lyrics when he needs Hamilton aid.

George Washington’ s presence is not just physical, but mental, as he is the character to inspire Hamilton to live past tomorrow, giving him motivation, telling him that history has he eyes on him, and during the final number of the show, it starts with him repeating these lyrics. 

“Let me tell you what I wish I’d known

When I was young and dreamed of glory

You have no control

Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?”

And rather appropriately, in the final song, Hamilton does not get a word to say, as it is in fact, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Angelica and Eliza who take the lead, singing about Hamilton amusements and seeds, as well as the stories of the soldiers who fought with him, as well as Washington, and themselves, with Eliza proudest accomplishment was her orphanage she opened up, for children like Hamilton. The last time Hamilton sings, he sings his mind, there is no beat or medley, like he previously wondered in “My Shot” singing about why he should waste his shot and how history shall remember him. The musical is a combination of excitement and non-stop musical genius, every song has its purpose, and no matter how long or how small it is. I have always loved musicals, and I love the way they have been able to make a rather bland subject into a 160-minute musical.  I will not be long, but in conclusion: I love it.