All But Gone

Next up in The Other Room’s Lovesick season is All But Gone, and is the first piece directed by Dan Jones after taking over as Artistic Director. Oh, and this is a production you won’t want to miss.

This time round your ticket is a seat at the kitchen table in Owen’s home, and we’re right up close as the story unfolds with a young boy breaking in to his home in the early hours of the morning. However, the writer is quick to make clear that this piece is not all staged in one set point in time, and we are transported back in time to key points in Owen’s life, as dementia slowly takes hold of his remaining memories and he has trouble differentiating old friends from new.

As people from Owen’s past are introduced, and storylines intersect and cross over, we learn of his difficult decisions, and his battles with society’s acceptable version of himself, as well as those who came in to his life and left again. The reliance between Kai and Owen is touching to watch, and the family dynamic between Bev, Howell and their mother will strike a cord with many in the audience. There are no weak performances within the cast, and the story flows fluidly through time and between moments of humour, loss and despair.

With a set like no other yet again in the intimate pub theatre, and clever lighting design transporting us back and forth in time with ease, All But Gone is a touching and poignant piece which glows with powerfully poetic writing and strong direction despite the vague memories presented. A stellar production, and one not to miss in Cardiff this month.

All But Gone runs at The Other Room until April 14th. Follow them on Twitter @TORtheatre


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.


There once was an Ugly Duckling…

Taking over the Sherman theatre’s studio space this Christmas, is the gorgeous tale of The Ugly Duckling brought to audiences age 3 – 6 courtesy of Sherman Cymru and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru.

The story of a young duckling who doesn’t fit in in his nest and goes on a search to find himself, and his friends, begins with a warm Croeso from the three actors, instantly engaging the attention of even the grizzliest toddler. The other ducklings in his nest take great joy in making sure he knows he is different, as they can both quack and he can only honk!

As the duckling travels to find himself and some real friends, he comes across a hilarious hen who shows us how easy it is to lay an egg, a cat who doesn’t understand why everyone can not pounce and meow like him and a short sighted hunting dog who thankfully has no interest in making the duckling his dinner. The traditional story conveys all of the key themes that any good festive tale should, brilliant directed by Sara Lloyd and performed with total commitment and stunning energy.
The leaves swirl through the sky, snow falls and the stars shine brightly, as the seasons come and go illuminating the simple yet well used set, enchanting audience members young and young at heart with a stunning lighting design. Incorporating musical instruments and song in to the tale, the musical score is charming and full of joy – evoking cries of ‘wow it’s a harp!’ from the musicians of tomorrow in the front row!

A beautiful narrative brought to life in an incredible fashion full of delight, friendship and music, one not to miss this Christmas, to escape your standard Christmas carols and Santa Claus’.

A whole lot of Bedroom Farce!

This weekend saw Black Rat Productions and their adaptation of Bedroom Farce take over Royal Welsh College on the final leg of their tour, providing a sold out crowd in the Richard Burton theatre with an evening full of laughter!

Set in three bedrooms, featuring four couples each at different stages in their relationships and focusing on one night’s events, we are taken back to the 70s with excellent platform shoes and wallpaper my Grandma would appreciate!  Kate and Malcolm have invited their friends to a house warming party, while Ernest and Deliah are off out for their anniversary dinner at their annual restaurant of choice.  The recipe for disaster is complete when Nick is laid up in bed with a bad back and Jan decides to go to the party without him, in the company of ex-husband Trevor and new wife, the slightly neurotic Susannah.  Exposing secrets and cracks in their relationships, the ups and downs of love and marriage are displayed with hilarious consequences!

With a well designed set and a stellar cast, Black Rat have done it again.  Full of giggles and excellent timing, the intertwining lives of the four couples creates a humorous production, if a little cringe-worthy at times! All in all a great night at the theatre full of fun and laughter!

Keep an eye on the Black Rat Productions website and their twitter feed @blackratprods for news of their future productions. 

Lest we forget

100 years on and the emotions are still there underneath the surface from World War 1. And as part of the centenary year: events, productions and exhibitions are popping up all over the UK, each as a reminder of the great losses to each of the nations involved in the brutality of war.

This month saw the arrival of the National Theatre’s triumphant War Horse in Cardiff and it definitely did not fail to impress! Gracing the stage of the Wales Millennium Centre with it’s presence, the tale of Albert and Joey’s journey to the battlefield was beautifully portrayed and the incredible skill behind the puppetry and movement had the audience gripped from the opening bars of the score. As cliche as it sounds, the puppeteers simply faded in to the darkness, and the skill of the performers left me in awe.

Brought to life from the popular children’s book by Michael Morpugo, this is a tale focused on family, bravery and determination which never blames one side or the other or glorifies war. An emotional and incredible productional; finished off with a well deserved standing ovation from a sold out auditorium! It really was a wow moment, looking around to see everyone on their feet from school children to war veterans, absolutely amazing! (Sorry, I’ll stop being soppy now…)

Also, in South Wales at the moment is the latest site specific exploration from National Theatre Wales: Mametz. This time round, the location of choice is the beautifully scenic Great Llancayo Wood in Usk, Monmouthshire where the audience is transported to the Somme and the Battle of Mametz Wood. Concentrating on the 38th (Welsh) Division who lost 4,000 men, the audience is soon thrown into the action as we are lead through a trench on an ‘experience tour’ and taken back in time to relive history.

An emotional journey, as we enter the hearts of the soldiers and their families back home, seeing both sides of the battle from a very personal perspective, especially when the audience too are sent over the top and into No Mans Land… concentrating less on the action but more on the men as people: sons, fathers, husbands… Highlighted by the haunting final scenes where large photographs drape the floor and the trees of the forest. The scale of the site itself is simply incredible, and the gripping narrative from Owen Sheers, reignites the memories of those young men lost at war. It was really refreshing to see such a young cast taking on such a challenging subject matter and there were some incredible performances from all involved. National Theatre Wales have produced a mesmerising and moving commemorative production: creating an immersive experience rather than your standard night at the theatre!

Two incredible productions, both showcasing brilliant storytelling and staging and proving once again, that those who were lost at war will never be forgotten.

War Horse continues it’s run at the Wales Millennium Centre until the 19th July, while Mametz continues amongst beautiful scenery come rain or shine until the 5th July. Tickets for both available from the Centre. Two performances not to be missed this year!

Mad, Bad and Dangerous: Everyman are back!

Wales’ biggest open-air theatre festival is back again this year and is heading to Sophia Gardens, Cardiff next month from 4th July – 2nd August.  The Everyman Open Air Theatre Festival has a program full of delicious entertainment for 2014, ready to entertain thousands of audience members, bigger and bolder than ever before.

Take a trip to the barbers with the witty and bloody musical, Sweeney Todd (4-12 July) or join Blackadder and Baldrick in three episodes from Blackadder II (15-21 July).  Watch Kate and Petruchio’s relationship from a new perspective in Shakespeare’s outrageous romantic-comedy, The Taming of the Shrew (25 July-2 August) or swim deep under the sea with Ariel and friends in Disney’s The Little Mermaid (26 July-2 August).  All full of magic, drama and a slice of madness, it’s set to be a real highlight of the summer theatre season for audiences young and old.

All seating for the festival is reserved and under cover, so come rain or shine, the show must go on, as we all know the unpredictable nature of a British summer!  Situated just outside the heart of the city centre, the festival is easily accessible by all modes of transport and with the brilliant team of Everyman volunteers on hand to help, there will definitely be a crew of friendly faces waiting for you!

A whole new world lies just off the main road and you’re invited to be a part of it: Sure to be full of intrigue, excitement and brilliant theatre, the Everyman Open Air Festival is one not to be missed this summer!

Reviews to follow very soon. For more information and to book tickets online, go to the Everyman website or alternatively ring the box office on 03336 663366 for ticket prices from just £7.  Follow @everymanCDF and @everymanfest for more frequent updates or like Everyman Festival on Facebook.

It’s completely mental!

It’s the Jennifer Vyle show!

There’s a knock at the door and suddenly a quiet stranger brings a lot more than one family bargained for! With a strong but small cast, Spectacle theatre are on the road again, to raise awareness of mental health in communities across South Wales.

In a similar format to the popular television show starring host Jeremy Kyle, this show shows the reality behind the entertainment value thousands tune in to observe everyday. Focusing on one important issue after the other from bullying to drugs, with host with the most, Jennifer Vyle, there to provide humour in some darker moments with some hilarious one liners.

Stats show that one in four of us suffer from mental health in our lifetime, and Spectacle theatre have put together a brilliant piece of community theatre highlighting the difficulties and the emotions surrounding individuals and those closest to them. With equally strong characterisation from all four actors, it is unfortunate that the audience we were a part of in Llanover Hall was not more vocal in it’s involvement in the show in order to spur on the performance. A rowdy crowd could have really kicked things off!

Check out for more information and tour dates!