Blakeson - Writer

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

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.


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