YOU’LL be grateful to know, dear readers, that this month won’t see me having any kind of rant or soapbox moment – that’s because I’ve seen so much theatre this month the column is going to be jam packed with reviews!
This year Theatrau Sir Gar has been packed with physical theatre and dance productions, with some of the UK’s most well regarded companies visiting on national tours. So on 11th August I went to see Silent Lines, presented by the Russell Maliphant Company (one of the UK’s most well regarded dance companies, headed by award winning choreographer Russell Maliphant. What were the themes/ideas behind the production? I couldn’t tell you – and that’s the way Russell Maliphant wants it according to the accompanying literature – while watching and afterwards while discussing with my theatre companions my head was swimming with ideas? Was it about immigration, history, industrialisation, climate change? (Personally my bet goes to industrialisation, but I’m probably wrong). But regardless, it was an entrancing production of spellbinding movement and music.
The Phoenix Theatre Group are a Llanelli institution, and on Friday 17th May I went to the Ffwrnes to see their latest production – Agatha Christie’s “Toward’s Zero”. Plays by the Phoenix are always well attended and especially so for an Agatha so a nearly packed house turned out to see their latest production. It was a typical Agatha Christie, full of twists and turns, humour and its share of dark moments. In a typical Agatha fashion, a group of people descend on a slightly isolated house in the countryside to catch up for a relaxing holiday, but with tension in the air and unspoken secrets murder is the result. As always, the set and costumes for Phoenix are excellent (their country house sitting room set is probably their most frequently used, but they always spruce it up and make it look slightly different for each production) and the costumes are of an authenticity and quality as you’d expect on the West End. Some stellar performances particularly from Jamie Davies, Roy Tilman and Stephen McDermid, but every single performance was faultless and captivating
Finally, I went on a field trip with the Theatrau Sir Gar Ambassasdors to sunny Ceredigion on Saturday 18th May to watch When in Roam (prior to it touring, including a stop off in Llanelli on 17th June for Refugee Week). The hour plus drive was well worth the effort! The production tries to capture the theme of home and does so through movement, poetry, speech, AV and even aerial acrobatics! The piece if multilingual with sections in English, Welsh, French and Spanish (the cast being Welsh, Puerto Rican and French Canadian). The ideas of the piece were what makes a home – is the place, people, “things” and what happens when you leave that place and return (are you truly home or was your new location your “home”?) Society is becoming increasingly nomadic as the world becomes smaller with new technologies and more and more people are moving and resettling for education, work and family so the questions asked were certainly relevant. I also get the feeling it is a living and evolving piece, with the cast changing and adapting it based on feedback, venue and new experiences. I look forward to seeing it in Llanelli on June 17th to see how it has changed.
July is traditionally a quieter month for theatre, but there are still some highlights to see at Carmarthenshire’s theatres (particularly for the youngsters). Some Welsh language theatre suitable for 3-8 year olds is at the Lyric on July 1st and 2nd and the Ffwrnes on 3rd July with “Rwtsh Ratsh Rala Rwdins” by Angharad Tomos. 2nd-5th July see’s local youth company Seren Performing Arts bring Aladdin Jr to Stiwdio Stepney, Ffwrnes. You may have seen the film (and even it’s live action remake) but this young persons adaption of the Broadway/West End show contains songs and characters not in the films, yet still has that Disney magic. Stage 8 Theatre School brings Hairspray Jr to the Ffwrnes 27th & 28th July.
For the adults, the Miners has a unique collaboration between a musician and singer, and a visual artists and storyteller on the 17th July for The Lost Fairy Tales of West Wales. Finally on 31st July Ffwrnes is host to Chores – An action-packed comedy circus show from Australia, that tells the story of two brothers who don’t want to do their chores and tidy their room. Highly-trained clowns do death-defying stunts, in a show the whole family will love!
Photos are from Towards Zero (credit to Peter Williams) and from Silent Lines