Photographs by Keiran Cudlip
All But Gone is the second production of the Lovesick season at The Other Room in Cardiff. It marks the debut direction of the Other Room’s new artistic director Dan Jones, and if this astonishing show is anything to go by, it will make this venue, not only one of the most exciting in Cardiff but in Wales as a whole.
For a fringe venue to put on a new play by established playwright Matthew Trevannion of this quality is an outstanding achievement.
The action begins with Kai, (played by newcomer Callum Hymers with great emotional control for a young actor), burgling pensioner Owen’s house. Owen who had previously noticed Kai acting suspiciously at a neighbour’s premises is waiting for him – shotgun pointed at the intruder. After putting the Fear of God into him, Owen slowly reveals a sympathetic side, and realising that Kai is famished, offers a sandich and sends him on his way. But not before Howell, (Daniel Graham who brilliantly plays the character alternating between gentleness, manic antics and uncontrolled rage) enters the scene from upstairs and recites a soulful passage of poetry. However, he appears not to notice kai before returning to where he came from.
In fact, only Owen interacts with Kai throughout the entire play, even though he is often present in scenes with the other characters.
This puzzling question is the beginning of what becomes a highly complex play. If Kai isn’t actually a person then hat is her and what does he represent?
Does the illegal entry through the kitchen window, mirrored in the final scene by Howell represent an intrusion into Owen’s impaired memory . As the play develops, it becomes obvious that the action takes place with Owen as a younger man and where he is now. But how reliable is his memory for he seems to be undertaking a decline of his mental facilities and entering a state of senile dementia?
The other characters are also marvelously observed. Nicola Reynolds plays Olwyn, matriarchal head of the family where Owen is living. She plays the archetypal Welsh Mam to a tee and has the funniest lines. There is a lot of humour in this play despite its poignant subject matter.
Her daughter Bev, (Erin Phillips) is a kindhearted Welsh girl of the kind we all know and love. Her brother is Howell who has already been introduced.
Everyone in this production seems tailor-made for the characters they portray which is a testament to their acting abilities. A special mention has to go to Wyn Bowen Harries, a veteran actor on the Welsh TV and theatre scene. His control, especially vocally is superb and you can’t help looking at his character sympathetically.
The play touches upon a number of themes as well as dementia – confused sexuality and lost opportunity.
The set design is perfect for a small space. A table and kitchen unit wwith window back centre and stairs leading upwards. A porch and outer door lead to the street. Carl Davies miraculously manages to make the set appear much larger than it actually is.
Joe Fletcher’s lighting provides scenes of great intimacy.
In fact, this is a flawless production, and if I could, I would be awarding it four and a half stars out of five.
This is a truly thought provoking play about a thought disintegrating subject matter. This production deserves a transfer to a larger venue after it ends its run here.
Due to the strong language throughout, and adult scenes and subject matter, this play is for mature audiences only. It runs at The Other Room in Cardiff until 14th April and I would urge you to view it.
Please follow the link below to check ticket availability.