Tag Archives: Jack Thorne

My Top 5 Showcase: Theatr Clwyd Shows

In the third part of my showcase series for Get the Chance, I thought I’d share five of my favourite Theatr Clwyd shows in conjunction with their #TCTogether project.

Under Milk Wood

I have this production by Terry Hands to thank for falling in love with theatre in the first place. On a cold February night in 2014, I sat on the end seat in the front row of the Anthony Hopkins theatre and was transported to the wonderful world of Dylan Thomas’ famous drama. It featured an excellent cast of Welsh actors whose delivery of the language created a very vivid experience. I can still see the character of Polly Garter (Katie Elin-Salt) under intense spotlight, transfixed by her plaintive tones as she sang of lost love. A true ‘conversion’ experience for me.

Junkyard: A New Musical

Writer Jack Thorne has gone on to critically-acclaimed success with TV dramas like The Accident. This play came hot on the heels of the first in his National Treasure trilogy, and was every bit as good. Set in an adventure playground, it featured a rowdy group of teenagers led by the outspoken Fiz (Erin Doherty). Doherty led the company brilliantly, giving a pitch-perfect performance in a production that used lighting and music to brilliant effect. Emotive and funny, it shone a light on the overlooked corner of an urban landscape.

The Importance of Being Earnest

Anyone who has witnessed the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll pantomime will know that the costume department at Clwyd are a talented bunch. They excelled themselves with this production however, with costumes that were every bit as colourful as the spectacularly rich scenery. Oscar Wilde’s already witty script was brought to life hilariously by the physicality of actors Matt Jessup and Nick Harris in particular. Brilliantly funny, I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun in a theatre.

Home, I’m Darling

Deservedly winning awards (Best Comedy among them), Laura Wade’s critique of nostalgia and domestication was a beautifully-constructed, well-acted and aesthetically-glorious piece. The bold and impressive scenery – effectively a life-size doll’s house – would have been enough to bowl you over. Thankfully, the acting talents of Katherine Parkinson and Richard Harrington, clearly in their element, brought plenty of humour and vulnerability to their lead characters. It made for a highly original, thoroughly enjoyable play.

Pavilion

I loved this play. Playwright Emily White’s debut is a modern Under Milk Wood, casting a sharp, satirical and dark eye on life in small town Wales. It featured an incredible array of performances from established actors and upcoming talent alike. The true genius of this production was in its realism; the way that White created drama out of the everyday and mundane. The cast brought it to life superbly. I cannot wait for it to be revived for the stage again already.

What are your favourites? Share them using the hashtag #TCTogether, where you’ll also find lots of creative ideas to do during lockdown @clwydtweets.

Written by Gareth Williams

Review Junkyard: A New Musical at Theatr Clwyd by Gareth Williams

 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

 

Please don’t misunderstand me when I say that Junkyard: A New Musical is a load of rubbish. It is by no means of poor quality, lacking in characterisation, or short on story. I am actually making reference to the dynamic and inventive set. It is made (almost entirely) of waste material: planks of wood, old tyres, thick blue twine. It is a representation of the ‘Adventure Playground’, an idea pioneered in the 1960s and ‘70s. It provided a space for kids to call their own, where they could embrace risk and unleash their creativity.

Writer and director Jack Thorne has made this the setting for his latest production, having been inspired by his father, Mick. As one of the first play leaders at an adventure playground in Bristol, Thorne pays tribute to him in the character of Rick. Played by Calum Callaghan, Rick is a laid-back, rather soft man who, nevertheless, has a big heart. He wants to build a ‘Junk Playground’ in Bristol and hopes to get a group of teenagers involved in the process. However, this rowdy group of misfits prove more challenging than expected. What follows is a tragi-comic story as the lives of these young people become inextricably entwined in the building of this unconventional structure.

Leading this group of kids is Fiz, an outspoken and confident young lady played to perfection by Erin Doherty. Doherty is a delight to watch. Utterly captivating, she makes Fiz an instantly loveable personality. Full of humour and expressive action, Doherty allows just the right amount of vulnerability to seep through. Her performance is enhanced by an incredibly strong supporting cast. Each brings such life and vitality to their characters that one could easily mistake this for a social documentary. I recognise in the passionate anger of Ginger (Josef Davies), the stuttering speech of Talc (Enyi Okoronkwo), and the crude insults of Higgy (Jack Riddiford), traits not only from my own teenage years but personalities that I came across during my own time as a (not very good) youth worker.

It is testament to the performances and quality of writing that one looks upon this as a marvellous work of social commentary. Yet what enhances this production to make it, in my opinion, a five-star play is the effective use of lighting and music. The opening sequence, repeated later in the play, is mesmerising. The use of torches and lighters immediately captures your attention and from then on, you are hooked. Stage-side throughout is a live band; always a winner in my book, but what makes this particular piece of musical theatre stand out is its intriguing blend of speech and lyrics. It uses a similar technique to the sung verbatim in London Road, yet here it is largely the internal thoughts and emotions of the characters that are sung as part of a more traditional narrative script.

There is plenty of humour in Junkyard. Some people may find the language a bit too crude or near-the-knuckle at times. There is also quite a lot of swearing. Again, some people might find this excessive. But I think it adds real charm to the whole thing. Its sense of realism cannot be questioned. It is a really immersive piece of theatre. It is challenging too. It makes you reconsider the very notion of what a playground is, how it is treated, and who it’s for.

Junkyards may be a load of rubbish, but this one is a work of art.

Junkyard – A New Musical