Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I've put my new novella on-line. It's an African-American western, with a Black cowboy hero.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Incubator Project 2007

The Exquisite Corpse” , by the True/Fiction Theatre Company, was finally performed, as part of the “Incubator Project” in the Weston Studio at the Wales Millennium Centre this last weekend (19th/20th October). Obviously, I’m biased, since I was one of the writers who contributed scenes to the piece (although only two of mine made the final cut), but I was highly impressed with the show, which I caught on the first night, along with the other writers. Prior to the performance, the order in which the unrelated scenes would play out was determined by audience members picking numbers at random. Thus, after each scene, the actors would have to look up at the back-projection to see which number would come up and which turn the story would take next. Not that there was a story, of course – I quickly realised that the best way to appreciate the piece was just to give oneself up to the surrealistic haphazardness of the experience, and relate to the individual scenes on an emotional level as best one could. The technical side of the presentation was flawless, with live music, sound-mixing and image-projection, and the director (Matt Peover) making a virtue of the elaborate scene-changes by rendering them entertaining in themselves and thus inherent to the performance. I don’t know what the other writers (Angharad Devonald, Branwen Davies, Kit Lambert, Tracy Harris) thought of the way their contributions were handled, but my two scenes, both monologues, were extremely well-realised, and the whole piece left the impression of a long (but not too long at around 70 minutes) strange trip through some troubled minds. Even if nothing more comes of this experiment, I’m proud to have been involved.

Sharing the stage on both nights was the Cut The Cr*p Theatre Company, performing Jon Tregenna’s satire “The Prince Of Wales”, about the discovery, or otherwise, of a contemporary descendant of true Welsh royalty. A clever script, some amusing performances and excellent direction, making good use of multimedia resources. The ultimate theme, however, appeared to be the Welsh inferiority complex – a little well-worn, perhaps, and maybe on the wrong side of the fine line between relevance and insularity. And coke-sniffing media scum are perhaps too obvious a target. But it was highly entertaining.

Friday, October 12, 2007

"Cargo" / "Control"

The latest presentation in Michael Kelligan’s current international “On The Edge” season at Chapter, Cardiff, was a rehearsed reading of “Cargo”, by D.J. Britton – another Welsh premiere. A play set partly in 1968 and partly in 1990 (it was originally produced down under in 1993), it tells the story of a glibly sloganising Australian protest singer who, via a romantic entanglement, gets caught up in the life-and-death politics of the Prague Spring (also soon to be the subject of a radio play by Tracy Spottiswoode, starring Robert “Napoleon Solo” Vaughan as himself). He is rediscovered by a cynical politician who hopes to exploit the story in order to shore up his flagging radical credibility – needless to say, things don’t go according to plan. A heartfelt and witty piece, performed by an excellent cast as always (Laurence Allan, Amanda Rawnsley with a faultless Czech accent, Phillip Mackenzie and Manon Edwards), with the author himself in charge of the soundtrack and occasional voices. I did find my mind wandering during a few of the more flowery passages, but that’s more to do with my menopausal attention-span problems than any deficiencies in the writing. Good to see another full house as well.

I also went to see “Control”, Anton Corbijn’s Ian Curtis/Joy Division bio-pic. Lush black-and white cinematography, and wonderful acting, especially from Samantha Morton as Curtis’ wife, Deborah, who provides the heart of the tale, if Ian can be said to be the soul. The actor-musicians played live during the concert segments (although they obviously did overdubs later), which helped convey the intense mood of a JD gig. Newcomer Sam Riley was excellent in the lead role, although the script (by Matt Greenhalgh) was so precise and economical that he’d have had to try really hard to screw it up. Because of the inevitable tragic ending, the moments of humour were guiltily effective – mostly one-liners from Hooky (Joe Anderson); and the “Alan from Crispy Ambulance” scene is priceless. Good to see that Corbijn, legendary as a rock photographer and video-maker eschews tricksy visuals in favour of just telling the story, other than towards the end, when the focus is on Ian’s increasingly desolate mental state. A beautiful piece of work, rendered uplifting despite the bleak denouement, by the inspirational music.