Get the Chance recently interviewed Abdul Shayek, Director of Death and the Maiden, who told us that he was very proud of the inclusive and political play which he aimed to raise awareness against political oppression and abuse. Death and the Maiden is a play about the struggles of moving on after living in a dictatorship. It’s about the consequences of patriarchal rule and the abuse of power. It’s about women’s struggle.
Having never been to The Other Room Theatre before, I was pleasantly surprised. The quaintly small room and the centred stage layout created a very intimate feel. With just three rows of chairs on either side of the stage, and the backstage being entirely around the audience, it felt like we were quite literally in the middle of everything: like stage props, spoken to and manipulated for a brilliantly eerie effect. Actors walked on and off stage from all different locations around the room, which really gave the imposing feel of the audience being closed in on. Paired with the close-knit nature of the actor-audience space, it was impossible not to feel on edge. That feeling is exactly the right one to have to suit the mood of the production. To watch a kidnap scene, with a gun and shouting and to listen to tales of sexual and torturous abuse, it would be wrong to make the audience feel comfortable and at ease. We were meant to feel discomfort and awkwardness, and we did. It was powerful.
The acting was sublime. Lisa, Vinta and Pradeep did an incredible job of displaying emotional and genuine feelings that were so impressive on the audience. We all felt the tone of the room change as we shifted through monologue to dialogue, and back to angrier monologue. Lisa’s portrayal as a tortured woman trying to move on with her life is touching for all audiences alike, and her counterpart, Vinta’s, role as the husband struggling between revenge and democracy is played out so frustratingly well that I wanted to just go up and shake him and tell him what to do! Equally, Pradeep played a sick and twisted doctor, yet he did so in a way that still made the audience love him, and so this can be down solely to his beautiful acting. It was a pleasure to watch the three of them bounce off one another in the most sophisticated way.
I felt such a great sense of duty to go and watch this production. It felt like a necessity to go, and an ignorance if I didn’t. In a world surrounded by patriarchal dominance, sexual abuse, and inequality across the spectrum, this play could not be any more current. One only has to hear the name Harvey Weinstein to remember how current this play really is. Fio, the production company of this play also put on an all-woman project following this production to create a safe space for women to talk with each other about their experiences as women in the 21st century. It’s so important! As a 20-year-old woman living in Cardiff, I absolutely loved this play and was overjoyed when I heard the great work Fio was putting into safeguarding those affected by the personal and somewhat invasive (in a good way) themes of the storyline.
The Full link to Abdul’s interview with Get the Chance can be found here Cast & Creatives
Amy Jane Cook
Hi Abdul, would you mind by starting by giving a quick background of yourself for our readers?
Yes of course! I moved from London to Wales in 2011 and worked for National Theatre Wales as a creative associate. In 2013 I left and started my own new projects – I created Fio from the foundations of an organisation I ran in London called Youth Of Creative Arts. Fio is based in Cardiff and is an arts charity with the aim of creating new interest in art projects and developing people within the arts.
At Fio, we want to make productions that start conversations over important issues, which can be seen with our previous productions as well as our currently-running Death and the Maiden. Fio’s motto is “Fio makes fearless theatre: work that tears down stereotypes and challenges injustice.” Considering your move from London to Cardiff, did you personally feel that there was a need for a boost in cultural diversity in the Welsh arts scene?
When I moved to Wales I could see a hugely diverse community around me. But many culturally-diverse artists aren’t made prominent on the Welsh arts scene and aren’t given the same platforms as others. I created Fio to try and boost these people up and bring them an opportunity. Fio’s production last year, The Mountaintop, aimed to tackle race issues and how much they may or may not have changed. Despite being focused on the Black American community, it resonates across the world where there is underrepresent Afro-Caribbean community. In a world concerned with TV, film and social media, do you worry that there is a struggle to keep theatre alive?
I don’t think theatre is going anywhere. The live nature and the fact the audience is involved in productions and are living it as the actors are has such a powerful impact. There is a bigger sense of real-life empathy that you don’t get in the same way through a screen. Therefore, theatre will not disappear. Historically, performance has always been a way to enable communities to hold a mirror up to themselves and allows them to purge themselves of some of their issues and questions. Theatre always provokes you to think about topical issues and debate. It’s a shared experience, you’re there as a group and you share the experience together. What has it been like, being the director of a play that touches so many on a personal level? With themes like rape and abuse, there is a large responsibility placed on your shoulders.
As a production team, we are very concerned with supporting actors and audiences that could be affected by the themes the play raises. We want to talk about it but also provide a safe space for thinking around abuse and dealing with democracy after a dictatorship. Gender politics has a huge part to play in the show too. We want the production to force us to have those conversations. It’s been an interesting process as a creative team, thinking about how to do it right and how to safeguard those participating in those conversations in the first place. We want to do it in a way that is constructive. We’re going to have some Q&As with people who have experience civil war, rape and other themes of the play to enable the safe-guarded conversation. Also, on the 1st -3rd November we are running a female-only project. Fusion is meant to encourage a safe space for women to get together and respond to the personal themes we want to raise in discussions. It will be at St David’s Hall and will really delve into what being a female in wales is like. The play is preoccupied with truth, democracy and dictatorships (as many as other themes). When regarding the world as we know it right now, what do you think topical themes such as these can do for cultural understanding of politics? Can they inspire change?
Yeah, the play tackles these themes but also tries to discuss issues on a personal level, such as abuse and raw torture. We want to ask: how does a whole nation recover with democracy after a dictatorship? How do victims move on from governmental abuse? Recent events such as the Weinstein case raises the conversation about issues such as abuse of power and the male-dominated world women have to live in. What happens when women are subjected to sexual abuse and how is it viewed through the lens of the mainstream? How can we empower women to feel like they can talk about it? We want to know how to identify and start being able to rectify issues of these nature. Thanks for talking with me, Abdul.
Thanks. Death and the Maiden is being shown in The Other Room, Cardiff from the 31st October until 11th November.
By Charlotte Clark
When looking at Murder Mystery stories it is extremely rare to find someone as talented and well-loved as Agatha Christie. On the 25th November 1952 Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’, opened in the West End and has been running ever since, meaning the play is celebrating its 60th Anniversary. To celebrate this momentous occasion the production company have taken the show on tour around the UK allowing a whole new audience to watch and enjoy.
Being an avid fan of Dame Agatha Christie I was very keen to watch this play as I wanted to see how similar the play would be to some of her most well-known work such as Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. I must say that the play certainly does not disappoint and holds all of the key Agatha Christie characteristics to make it recognisable and familiar. Everything about ‘The Mousetrap’ seems very familiar as though we’ve read the story before. The play is set in a country house with oak-panelled walls with hidden back stairs and linking passages. It is the sort of house someone can leave the room by one door and reappear through another so you can never be too sure of where every character is. A snow blizzard takes hold and all of the roads soon become blocked to add to their problems the telephone is not working and on the radio there is a story about a murderer on the loose. The house is full of the usual range of Cluedo style characters that have never met each other before. Is there a chance that one of these people could be the murder? All of the characters have their own secrets and as you would expect from an Agatha Christie mystery, the story is full of twists and red herrings.
Three of the play’s characters Sgt Trotter, Mr Paravicini and Miss Casewell.
The characters are extremely well-defined and all very different and eccentric in their own ways. The cast of the play work really well together. Anna Andresen and Nick Barclay create a fitting partnership for Mollie and Giles Ralston showing well their nerves about their first attempt at running a Guest House. Sarah Whitlock portrays brilliantly the straight-talking, no-nonsense Mrs Boyle. Whom I thought had similar characteristics to that of Miss Marple as portrayed by Dame Margaret Rutherford. Amy Downham gives us a very secretive and mysterious Miss Casewell leaving the audience with many questions as to whom she could be. Gregory Cox is wonderful as Mr Paravicini and somehow seems to have created the character similar to that of Hercule Poirot. Oliver Gully is fantastically mad as Christopher Wren positively bursting with energy. Tony Boncza is ever so the retired Army type as Major Metcalf and Alan Magor played the part of Police Sergeant Trotter, a very good portrayal of a typical Agatha Christie detective putting all of the clues together and drawing all the attention of the audience.
Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple two characters created by Agatha Christie.
I simply must mention the divine set that was created for the play which was made in such a way that it felt homely and inviting for the audience. The use of lamps on stage bought a sense of comfort for the audience and also an element of reality. The large wooden panels with the period furniture gave the audience a wonderful setting for the story to play out.
The UK tour trailer for ‘The Mousetrap’.
I highly urge everyone to see ‘The Mousetrap’ whether you are an Agatha Christie fan or not. It is a wonderful ‘who done it’ mystery that is guaranteed to get you trying to solve the case. With endless twists and turns the audience are kept on the edge of their seats. But you must remember that EVERYONE is a suspect!
Returning after their sell-out Spring 2015 tour the Grumpy Old Women are back to share their Grumpy tales and tips with the nation. Award-winning comedian and original star of Grumpy Old Women Jenny Éclair is accompanied by fellow recruits Susie Blake (star of Mrs Brown’s Boys) and Kate Robbins (Singer and star of Casualty). Before I go on with the review, however, I must mention I cannot go into too much detail as to the tales told with my review because as Jenny Éclair said “What goes on in Grumpy club stays in Grumpy club”.
Landing at St David’s Hall in their shed from outer space the grumpy old women, spacewalk onto the stage complete with space helmets and uniforms to a momentous applause from the audience, unsurprisingly the audience was mainly made up of women, with just a few men dotted about the auditorium. Given that I was possibly one of the youngest in the audience and being male I still felt as though I was able to relate to the topics they discussed – mind you having a Mum the same age as the Grumpy Old Women did help!
The Grumpy Old Women talked about a wide range of subjects that any person was able to relate to including a guide to nagging, how to get a roof rack put on a car without your husband moaning, dancing at weddings and pole dancing. Props littered the garden set and were used to brilliant effect during the show and even included a gigantic pair of pants and a BBQ.
The show is very clever in that it can be talking about a topic and then the lighting will change and you are plunged into a mini sketch. The sketches highlight the brilliant acting skills of all the Grumpy Old Women. The amazingly funny script really worked well for the stars and left the audience in stitches and in my case tears streaming down my face. I really like the fact that all of the comedy was good clean fun with very little use of bad language. When the language was used however it was delivered with fantastic comic timing.
The second half of the show sees them return to the James Bond theme which sparked a debate into why there has not yet been a female Bond. With the current news of Daniel Craig’s decision not to carry on playing Bond there is no better time than now to consider the possibilities of a female actress playing Bond and the three Grumpy women are obviously showcasing their talents to play Jane Bond.
For me there were two stand out moments in the show that were utterly hilarious, the first of these was when team Grumpy took part in ‘Grumpy Come Dancing’ based on the hit BBC show which had the audience in hysterics especially with Susie Blake’s pole dancing performance. The second stand out moment for me was the posh version of The Jeremy Kyle show, the writing was amazing and Kate Robbins impersonation of Jeremy Kyle was brilliant and even mimicked the way he lies on the step and goes up close to the faces of the people on the show. The content of the Jeremy Kyle sketch is also fantastically funny due to it being based around a mother complaining ‘My son will not practice the cello’.
At the end of the evening the audience gave a well-deserved standing ovation. Anyone who watches this show is guaranteed to have a fabulous night and will most definitely be leaving with an aching jaw from laughing so much. This really is a must see show that should not be missed and is most definitely the best night out I have had in a long while.
Return of The Grumpy Old Women- Fifty Shades Of Beige is currently on a UK wide tour and all of the dates are available via this link- http://www.grumpyoldwomenlive.com/
Creating opportunities for a diverse range of people to experience and respond to sport, arts, culture and live events. / Lleisiau amrywiol o Gymru yn ymateb i'r celfyddydau a digwyddiadau byw