An Englishman’s home is his castle, so the saying goes. But what happens when your husband (quite literally) finds himself in the shit and croaks it thanks to his fondness for the horses, leaving you destitute and homeless?
Triongl’s devised production ‘Miramar’, explores what are quite madcap and surreal circumstances in a small, intimate domestic comedy. Valmai Jones perfectly plays the part of interfering and curmudgeonly Enid. Vulnerable and stubborn, she finds herself put up by her friend Myfanwy following her misfortune and is horrified to find herself at the age of 74 sleeping in the Arsenal-themed room of her friend’s Grandson. She’s forced to watch as part-time holiday home landlords strip her house of her possessions as they create their little Welsh minimalist haven. Welsh speakers will recognise the subtle (and not so subtle) references and nods to ongoing anxieties and concerns about second homes in Welsh speaking communities here. Triongl play on these scenarios, contrasting the home-spun familiarities and eccentricities of Welsh speaking communities with the somewhat square and distant characters of Miriam and Martin, the couple from Swindon who purchase Enid’s old house. There are language barriers, eye-rolls and asides to the audience as these are played out. Jones’ comic timing and tense/jerky body language are absolutely spot on.
Hilarity ensues when Miriam and Martin’s daughters show up unexpectedly to the house only to find that Enid (disguising herself as neighbour Myfanwy) has moved in. We are taken down a number of paths and alternative ‘this is what could have happened’ scenes as Enid tries to cover up her manipulation and excuses as she plays one sister off against another. Becoming embroiled in the sisters’ bickering and back-story, the tangled comedy culminates in a sweet ending which will tickle you pink.
Audience members who don’t speak Welsh may struggle to get the full meaning and richness of Enid’s monologues in Welsh but the production helpfully gives a ‘cheat sheet’ to audience members delivered at the start (in character) by Enid herself. So you can find out just what Enid means when she says ‘cachu’ (shit), ‘Ty haf’ (holiday home) and ‘di gartref’ (homeless). This production will capture your attention to the very end and Welsh speakers will (ironically) feel right at home with the observations and cross overs between English and Welsh, village and city, old and new and all the complexities that go with it.
For all the ‘funnies’ in the play, there’s a sober message, which was highlighted by a post-play talk by Shelter Cymru. 97% of its cases are related to cases like Enid’s, not just homelessness out on the streets, financial insecurity is on the rise and we are typically only two pay packets away from homelessness ourselves. Miramar reminds us that we all need a place to call our own and to feel secure; whether it’s a place with china dogs and pink throws or stripped floorboards and minimalism.
Type of show: Theatre
Venue: Chapter Arts Centre
Dates: 16 & 17 June 2016
Author(s): Rebecca Smith-Williams
Director: James Williams
Lighting Design: Dan Young
Technical: Richard Balshaw (Production Stage Manager) and Jorge Lizalde (Graphic Design)
Cast includes: Valmai Jones (Enid), Rebecca Knowles (Alice) and Rebecca Smith-Williams (Georgina).
Co-producer: Rebecca Knowles
Running time: 65 mins