People enter the Lounge of the Park and Dare Theatre in Treorchy; they remain expectant as actors arrive. Young people comment on how much they have relished contributing to the soap opera, in recent weeks. A tutor has brought her pupils to see how such a project works, a grandmother and granddaughter enjoy each other’s company as well as that of the theatre company’s cast. Members of a jazz club were worried that an accident might result in a broken arm to combine with the broken leg of a past episode (which they thought was part of the script!)
An intergenerational audience settle themselves at the café tables as we are all invited to watch Episode three of Rhondda’s very own live soap opera.
“Welcome to Rhondda Road” Shane Anderson, the producer proudly announces
“The Fourth Wall Café” is open, as part time waitress Seren catches up with café owner Alex protesting that she has not been paid for the last fortnight, she has her own concerns, she cannot continue working, she has the promise of another job. Alex strains to find an answer as Seren storms out of the café unrequited.
A man in a dark suit struts into the café, he look intently at all the café’s fixtures and fittings; Alex appears nervous, as the man queries if Alex is Ok.
“It’s just one of those days, Dan” Alex answers “How can I help you?”
There is an air of irritability as the man demands that Alex pays the money owed to him by the next day. He repeats the amount he is owed at the percentage of interest it has gained. Dan absently picks up a bunch of drinking straws from the bar, and deliberately drops them individually onto the café floor as he repeats the amount, the interest and the time they will meet.
“Got the message?” he states as he leaves.
“Interesting character” Sion announces having witnessed the conversation, “Friend of yours?”
Alex replies that they have done business before.
Sion opens and reads from his iPad, he confronts Alex.
“Alex I have access to your accounts, stock and everything else. Why is your expenditure more than your income?” Alex tries to explain about new ideas, new brands but Sion is firm in his knowledge.
“There is a large amount of withdrawals. Are you in trouble Alex? What have you been doing, drugs?” Alex shakes his head.
“It’s not funny when money goes missing from a business. How much debt are you in?”
Alex is in denial as Sion, realising the situation, offers Alex the chance of clearing his debt; he will transfer the money owned into the café account.
“We can help each other out, I’ll scratch your back, if ……I think Megan will listen to someone who loves her”, as he outlines his plan. His son Ioan has gone off the rails and Sion needs Megan to talk to Ioan.
“I don’t want her to say anything about the past, the Past IS the Past” he warns. “Talk to Megan and your debt will be paid off”.
“What’s the catch?”
“Simple, there is no catch, talk to Megan, get her on side, I’ll give you the money to pay your debt. Make me the promise, no more gambling”
Alex remains at odds with the plan but can think of no other way out of his dilemma “OK yes” as Sion sets the transfer in motion via his iPad “Job done” he states as Alex shakes hands reluctantly with Sion.
Liam strolls into the café as Alex storms for him to use the side entrance to access the flat. Sion asks Liam how his job search is going, Liam can only answer negatively. Sion hits on an idea that Alex needs help with the café, and Liam is looking for work. Alex is astounded “I KNOW where you’re going, this is not happening. We had a deal!” he protests.
“Just hear me out” the estranged father of Megan continues, not wishing to be denied “You’re short staffed and Liam is looking for a job”
“You can’t expect me to pay his wages..” Alex shouts
“I’ll pay his wages” Sion answers.
Alex can find no answers as he fires questions like bullets at Liam. Alex offers Liam a temporary job, although the situation only feels like more salt is being rubbed into the open wound that is a nightmare of his own making.
Megan enters the café with Cerys; the mother of Seren, looking for Seren, Alex can only offer the excuse that Seren is out shopping.
“I’ll have a gin and tonic” Cerys repeats several times, as Megan demands from Alex what he and Sion were talking about, as Alex explains that all Sion wants is for Megan to start speaking to Ioan. Cerys moves erratically around the café “There’s a stage here, I used to be an actress” she informs Megan as she is negotiated back to her café table repeatedly requesting a gin and tonic.
Sion explains to Megan that he just wants to talk; he has a bottle of wine in his hand
“It’s not what you’re thinking, it is still sealed. THIS is what I WAS” he emphasises holding the bottle aloft, and then addressing himself states, “THIS is what I am NOW”
Sion reminisces about seeing Ioan on his first day at school and how he was dressed, how he has grown into a young man.
“I remember my first day at school with second hand clothes… “Megan begins
“Times were different then”, Sion changes his tactics “Do you remember Barry Island?, paddling, building sand castles, finding seashells …”
“Looking for mermaids ….” Megan remembers other things too “THEN you needed a drink … Don’t touch it!” she storms at Sion, as she retrieves the bottle and places it in the dustbin.
Charlotte, Megan’s sister brings a sombre looking Ioan into the cafe, as Megan asks him what he wants to know
“What happened?” is Ioan’s response.
“He drank, drink made him bad, he was bad to me. Speak to Sion” is all Megan can offer.
“MY Dad was my hero”
“MY Dad was not a hero”
Seren enters the café, she attempts to comfort Ioan as he leaves, but he shuns her. Megan is worried about Cerys “I saw your Mam in the street, I thought I’d bring her here” as Seren explains that she wants to see Alex about her unpaid wages. Megan can only agree to help her sort out the problem.
“Can you give me a hand?” a call comes from Ieuan, who appears in the café with donkey ears upon his head
“What do you look like?” Megan covers her laughter
“A donkey! I need you to go over my lines with me. ALEX! “his cry reaches the skylight and resounds “I need your help”
“What the hell do you look like?”
“I’ve got an audition later today” Ieuan explains as Seren tries to gain Alex’s attention, he in turn asks her for two minutes.
Ieuan, as Bottom from Shakespeare’s”A Midsummer’s Night Dream” continues his speech.
“Bless thee Bottom what angel wakes me from my spell?” comes the voice of Cerys as she serenades a shocked Ieuan as they continue to exchange the Bard’s words
“I love thee methinks you should have little reason for thee thou are wise as thee Cobweb and Mustard seed” Cerys recognising her daughter Seren, “I was Titania. I was an actress” then confusingly she continues “ I don’t know where I am. I want to go home. Home now” she demands of Seren. As they leave Alex assures Seren that her wages have been paid into her account, as she reminds him that other people have problems too
“What is he doing behind the bar?” Ieuan storms as he sees Liam
Alex tries to explain that it was not his decision that it is Sion who owns the building
“Sion is paying him?”
“You’re taking Sion’s money? You haven’t told her …!” Ieuan confronts Alex
“This is a very different situation”
“What haven’t you told me?” Megan questions Alex
“Everything is getting sorted” Alex digs himself further into the hole of his own making.
Abbie arrives in time to defuse the situation
“Don’t ask!” Ieuan warns his niece as she is about to ask about his donkey ears, as Abbie informs Ieuan that she has talked with her parents and there are no more problems with their marriage, as they both leave the café.
“Why are you taking Sion’s money? What is Ieuan saying? ALEX, LOOK AT ME, tell me the TRUTH! We said we would have no secrets ….” Megan states
“There are complications, he’s just trying to help” Alex flounders as Megan storms out,
Alex hits his head against the bar grill as Liam enters from the cellar and picks up various items from the tables.
“GET OUT!!! Just get out” Alex storms as Liam is bustled out. Alex cries out, as in his waterfall of life becomes a torrent of anguish and despair. The truth comes out like oil on water.
To conclude to quote the Bard
“No legacy is so rich as honesty”
Let’s hope it all ends well
Be sure to find out at the next live episode of “Rhondda Road”
On Tuesday, 5 December at 4 pm in the Lounge Park and Dare Theatre Treorchy
As individuals, we are all unique there can be so many secrets deeply hidden; we can never walk in another’s shoes to realise just what they are going through.
Drink Wise, Age well as the Christmas Season approaches.
Let’s celebrate enjoy, be wise, drink aware, and take care.
Thanks to Drink Wise, Age Well for your support with story, Park & Dare Theatre, Treorchy for your support ? and Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund CIC filmed by #RubberHeadMedia
“Rhondda Road” Treorchy’s very own LIVE soap opera continued with Avant Cymru Theatre actors and its Director Shane Anderson, when its second live episode was presented on Tuesday, 10 October in the lounge of the Park and Dare Theatre. An accident had certainly occurred since the inaugural episode, as one character proceeded to act out the whole performance on crutches. Such injuries happen in real life, and the wisdom of saying ‘break a leg’ should be given with a health warning!
The scene is set as you enter the confines of “The Fourth Wall Café”
A door slams as owner Megan rushes in with her daughter Isabelle close behind her.
“I’ve had enough!” Megan exclaims.
“LISTEN TO ME!” Isabelle cries out blatantly.
Seren, the part time waitress is busily attending to the tables, she asks a young girl sitting alone whether she would like a drink. Liam remains at one table, both Seren and Megan look on curiously wondering just what Liam is doing there.
Ioan and Charlotte sit on another side of the café contemplating a school project. Ioan only has eyes for Seren, as he implores Charlotte to give him information about Seren.
“Well, I MUST assume she fancies me…”
“She doesn’t fancy YOU!” Charlotte is adamant, as Ioan continues his line of enquiry until Charlotte replies conspiratorially “What I was told was confidential” Ioan is intrigued. Charlotte informs him that Seren is always late for school or work due to her ailing Mother, who has a ‘condition’; “Dementia” she concludes, “but I hope that won’t make any difference.” Ioan goes to the Bar to ask Seren for an order of drinks; he nervously exchanges opinions on the Project they are both undertaking, and then asks Seren how her Mother is. This leaves Seren in turmoil as she provides a drink for the young girl and then delivers their order to Charlotte.
“You told him!” Seren accuses Charlotte.
“Can I have a straw?” Charlotte asks.
Seren can only offer a Welsh language retort
“I heard that!” Charlotte scowls
“Your Welsh is improving then” Seren answers as Alex enters the Café walking with the aid of crutches
“Don’t ask!” he states.
Megan can only berate Alex for not being at the Meeting with Isabelle which has resulted in the case being taken to court. Alex explains that he was at the Drs, and apologises to a distraught Megan, attempting to change the subject he offers a consolation; he has visited a jewellery shop.
“What? The one with the gold rose ring and the special diamond cluster? You shouldn’t have told me, it’s supposed to be a surprise!” Megan admonishes and embraces him at the same time.
“I’ve got THEM!” Ieuan arrives flourishing two tickets excitedly in front of Alex
“You’re not going I remember the last time!” Megan defuses the situation as the two men protest their innocence.
“What happens in Panto stays in Panto” a light sparks in his eyes.”I KNOW we could have a tribute band Night here”
“Not another one, I remember your Shirley Bassey…
“The dress didn’t fit properly” Ieuan remonstrates, as he and Alex hum the Star Wars theme tune using the crutches as air guitars.
“What’s he doing here?” Ieuan recognises Liam.
“He’s meeting me!” Sion explains as he strides proudly into the café.
His estranged daughter Megan asks him to go.
“I’m here for Liam”
“DAD?” the startled cry comes from the lips of astonished Ioan; Sion can only look at him, “Ioan?”
“DAD?” Megan’s emotions threaten to overwhelm her, as she realises that her father is also Ioan’s father.
“Always keeping secrets” Megan states as Sion asks for the keys to the upstairs flat.
“You manage the café, I own the building” he proclaims with a gleam in his eye that is enough to unsettle any respectable lady in the neighbourhood. Alex hesitates knowing that Isabelle is upstairs; he issues the command ‘You’ll follow me”.
Ieuan warns Megan about Liam, “Promise me you won’t trust him” as Megan follows Sion upstairs.
Abbie questions her Uncle whether her Mother stayed overnight, Ieuan tries to explain that sometimes when you are married, things get difficult, that her Mam and Dad are going through a bad patch; he tries to reassure her that there will always be a place for her to stay with him. Ieuan hits out at the café furniture in frustration, then seeing Liam, singing with some satisfaction, on his way out of the cafe he storms “I’ve lost my family, my friends all because of you. I’ve lost all of my money to keep you. Would you do the same for me? WOULD YOU?” Ieuan cries out in anguish to a disappearing Liam.
Alex returns and building up his courage he asks Ieuan for a favour “Can you lend me some money?”
“Don’t ask me that now, I haven’t got any … “ Alex explains that he is under terrible pressure, that the present situation is doing his head in. Ieuan outlines his position: he has no job; he has to look for employment elsewhere, perhaps go to London. Alex states truthfully that he owes a lot of money, as Ieuan realises that his friend is gambling again and owes £5000. “I thought this was MY time” Alex explains.
“TELL Megan or I WILL” Ieuan states as he notices Anna sitting in the corner and discovers that she has been left there by her Mam. Anna hands over a note to Ieuan who, on reading it, rushes out of the café after handing the note to Alex. Meeting with Isabelle Alex explains that Megan has told him everything; he also queries Isabelle about Anna’s family life. “Her Mam is just like my Mam” Isabelle answers as Megan and Sion exchange explosive words as they come downstairs to the café.
“NO!” Megan storms
“Think about it, stop running away from me” Sion responds. “No strings attached”
“There’s always strings attached with you!” Sion leaves as Alex questions Megan
“He wants to give me the café as a Christmas present …”
“It’s all we’ve ever wanted ….”Alex states as he shows the note to Megan; a shocked Ieuan returns “Where’s Eleri?” Megan demands, Ieuan motions that Eleri is outside.
“Are you OK? You’ve done really well bringing her back, that’s really good” Alex reassures Ieuan, as a distressed and tormented Eleri shrivels up into the welcoming arms of Megan.
“It’s too hard, I can’t take it anymore. What have I done?” is all Eleri can manage to say as she is reunited with her daughter, as Ieuan leads her and Anna out of the café.
“Let’s go home” Megan gathers Alex and Isabelle close to her “We’ve got to get things sorted first.
No more secrets”
That is how Episode 2 of Rhondda’s very own soap opera “Rhondda Road” ended.
As in life, there are things that we do not tell each other; secrets that run too deep. Exceptional that in the week of World Mental Health awareness this topic was incorporated into the storyline.
Life, participant or spectator, involvement is the difference.
Episode 3 Tuesday, 14 November at 4 pm Park and Dare Theatre, Treorchy
You can catch up with episodes one and two below.
You can read Ann’s review of part one here
Rhondda Road is Avant’s very own live soap, where our community influence the topics covered in this improvised drama. It takes place every month in the Park & Dare Theatre.
Included in the cast are community cast members, some of who attend Rhondda based schools.