The Princess and the Pea

Chandeliers hung from the ceiling and pots and pans scattered the floor, as audience members filled up the studio at the Sherman for this years festive offering for 3-6 year olds – The Princess and the Pea.  A joint production from Theatr Iolo and Sherman Cymru, the three cast members were instantly engaged with the little ones brave enough to sit on the mats at the front and the music allowed both parents and children to relax around the stage area.

The Hans-Christian Anderson fairy-tale soon takes over the studio space, all be-it at a slow pace to begin with – although this didn’t seem to disinterest the younger audience members in the slightest.  The Prince is only interested in finding a Princess to marry, much to the Queen’s dismay and the two meet various potential suitors in order to make him happy.  As the rain falls on the old castle roof, the repetitive raindrops created mini musical interludes and the Sherman roof could well have been actually leaking!

The real sparkle comes when the unconventional Princess arrives, and as she chases, and plays, and makes the Prince laugh, the Queen decides to put her to the test to see if she actually is a real Princess.  Ceri Elen is brilliant as she takes over the space and the clever lighting design really emphasises the castle feel and changes in the weather.

A tale full of mis-used mash potato, a mattress or 20 and a lot of pans full of rain, the performance was enchanting for the younger audience members, although I felt it was missing a certain chaos or noisy interaction.  The Sherman studio space is full of magic and this gentle fairy-tale is a great treat for young families this Christmas.

Nadolig Llawen! The Princess and the Pea is on until the 2nd January 2016. More information and show times can be seen here.

 

Advertisements

Edinburgh, you beauty!

That’s it, another fringe over for me, and although the magic and chaos may still be continuing up in beautiful Edinburgh, I’m back to work tomorrow and a major bout of the fringe blues have kicked in. Although I didn’t manage to spend the whole month up there, I did squeeze in over 20 shows around working the box office (because I’m basically a ninja…) Here’s a run down of my top five and some other highlights:

Key Change: Open Clasp Theatre. Northern Stage @ Summerhall.

An incredibly authentic and refreshing take on female prison life, put together brilliantly and portrayed by a first class set of performers. Moving, funny and a bit rough round the edges: Key Change powerfully sings out loud the voices of female prisoners stuck in the system. 

Every Brilliant Thing: Paines Plough. The Roundabout @ Summerhall

This show left me an emotional wreck, an incredible performance and moving narrative, which had the audience involved from their first seconds in their seats. An insightful and beautiful piece, highlighting depression and self awareness, and reminding us of the little wonderful things we’re surrounded by… Number 14: Bed

Party for One: Christina Bianco. Assembly George Square Gardens.

Hilarious. Christina Bianco is a genius, and despite being one of the first shows I saw, still makes me laugh hysterically when picturing a Ariana Grande song, sang in Julie Andrews voice… Spot on impressions, sung beautifully with a heart warming and relatable story to match. 

A Girl is a Half Formed Thing: Traverse Theatre. 

An intense and gripping performance, with a lot of grit and a lot of heart. I left the Traverse with my heart in my mouth and in awe of such an emotive and epic performance from Aoife Duffin.

Ross and Rachel. Assembly George Square Theatre. 

She’s his lobster, and Molly Vevers was completely on it in her portrayal of any couple which start off with their happy ever after planned for forever. Switching between both sides of the couple, a couple which are now seen as an item, the clever script is laced with references and full of emotion. 

I also loved The Solid life of Sugar Water at Pleasance Dome: a heartbreaking story, expertly handled, and Jenny say qua from Jenny Collier made me cackle with laughter at the Three Sisters. Echoes at the Gilded Balloon was a brave and insightful comparative piece and last years NSDF winners, Naughty Corner and their production of The Bastard Queen was gritty, funny and a brilliantly polished production. Shitfaced Shakespeare was hilarious as The Merchant of Venice took to the cheap prosecco and beer, and Man to Man was an epic performance from Maggie Bain, and well deserving of all the rave reviews. Our Teachers a Troll made for another fantastic, fun morning at the Paines Plough roundabout as audience members young and old cowered and laughed as one, whilst Flossy and Boo was a fabulous pick me up for a Monday, proper feel good fun for all the family! 

As always, I had an absolute ball and Edinburgh was full of magic, chaos  and the wonderful team that is the Space UK family. I would definitely recommend checking out any of the shows above if you’re lucky enough to be heading up to the Scottish capital or if these companies ever decide to tour! 



‘We can take it cos we’re tough, the lot of us’

‘But what’s going to happen when we can’t take it anymore?’

Even if the title doesn’t ring a bell, you have no knowledge of Greek mythology and you’ve never been to Cardiff before; this production is hugely relevant, honest and touching at it’s core. Gary Owen’s Iphigenia in Splott opened at the Sherman last week, aptly programmed to coincide with the results of the General Election.

Effie is the sort of girl you would avoid a run-in with if you could: abusive on the streets to fat women with fat children and riding the bus of unemployment in a midst of three day hangovers and cocktail pitchers (which are basically £15 worth of ice). Her life changes one night as she falls for a wounded soldier in The Great Western, ditches her friends and her no-hope boyfriend, and we follow her journey of love, anger and tragedy as the chapters of her life play out through her monologue. The sold out studio audibly gasps, laughs and sniffs away tears as Effie ignites the bleak and perfectly minimal set, and reminds us of the consequences hiding beneath the cuts and the politics of today’s Britain.

Sophie Melville is perfectly cast, making the audience fall in love with the volatile Effie and her story: the whole studio completely behind her from the first drop of her guard. She strides with confidence, and crumbles in despair as life spins it’s web under O’Riordan’s purposeful direction and an incredible, raw and on point script from Gary Owen.

One not to miss out on, and you’ll probably be hard pushed to get a ticket by this point but it’s most definitely worth begging your better half for a tenner if you have to.  An incredible, heart wrenching, kick in the gut back to the reality of austerity brought to life in a beautiful, yet bitter performance from the team at the Sherman.

Iphigenia in Splott plays at the Sherman until 21st May, before featuring in the British Council Showcase at the Pleasance King Dome, Edinburgh, from 24-30 August.

A Good Clean Heart

Porters is fast becoming one of my favourite haunts in Cardiff, not least because the wine is good! But the edge above the other bars in town? The brilliantly tucked away pub theatre, The Other Room whose opening season has definitely not failed to amuse, shock and entertain thoroughly: each production bringing something brand new to the space.  The third in the aptly titled Life in Close Up season, Alun Saunders’ A Good Clean Heart is refreshingly touching and a brilliant tale of loyalty, family and the division between those geographically closest to us.

An entirely bilingual production, the narrative revolves around two brothers separated through the fostering system at a young age.  Older brother Jay ends up back with his biological mother in a council flat in London, recently released from a short stint in prison, whereas Kevin is scooped up by adopted parents when he’s too young to remember and has grown up in Wales under the name of Hefin. The two spontaneously meet again after the revelations on Hefin’s hangover induced 18th birthday, where his parents reveal that his older brother has been trying to contact him, and that he actually could be… English.

The events take place in one evening, beginning with an hilarious, awkward meeting at Victoria Coach station (25p for a Chomp?!) where it is clear that life’s dealer has issued each of the pair a very different set of cards, and ending in a much darker situation than the Welsh wannabe rugby player is used to. Alun Saunders’ script is touching, humorous and the intimate space allows audience members to fall in to the bilingual and bi-cultural world that the two young men have found themselves a part of.

The two actors bounce off each other brilliantly: their loyalty and love made even more prominent through thinking in different languages and the barriers between their lives.  Huge kudos has to go to the creative and tech team for injecting a refreshing modern design, taking us from the playground of the boys lost childhood, to Victoria Coach station to a drearily wallpapered flat, as well as keeping on top of the surtitles throughout.

As a wannabe Welshie, I left The Other Room with a huge sense of hiraeth and pride for the arts scene in Wales.  The combined brilliance of the direction, the script and the performances created a purely touching, thought provoking and honest production.

Ladies and gentlemen, cowgirls and cowboys…!

A family show with a difference, this Wild West treat from West Yorkshire Playhouse, the Egg, MAC Belfast and Theatr Iolo showcased something for everyone. On the Welsh leg of its tour, Little Sure Shot took over the Richard Burton Theatre this week at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

The story of Annie Oakley is one not many people are familiar with, but this brilliant story telling takes us on the journey with frightened and alone young Annie who has lost her father, to the standing ovations for the shooting star of the show. The Moses family are experiencing some bad times, and it is down to Annie’s shooting talent and big dreams which take her around the country and show the world that girls have just as much hard work and oomph behind them as any boy! Cleverly switching tone between scenes, the cast aptly move between light hearted clowning, country dance moves and touching solo moments highlighted by a stunning lighting design.

Verity Clark is brilliant as the title role and the ensemble of actor-musicians work seamlessly to entwine dancing, comic timing and song amongst the well written script. Set against a beautiful and cleverly designed stage and combined with a brilliant soundtrack from Lucy Rivers, this musical retelling is enchanting, good fun and full of the soul of the Wild West. The voices of the ensemble are enough to brighten any day and the

A brilliant tale full of determination, heart and spirit: Little Sure Shot is a heart warming and gutsy performance which has something for cowboys and cowgirls of any age! One to watch out for, for definite!