Blakeson - Writer

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

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Exquisite Corpse" / "Deep Cut" / "The Dark Knight"

I attended two Edinburgh-bound Cardiff productions at the end of last week. First up at the Wales Millennium Centre was the latest version of “The Exquisite Corpse” by True/Fiction. I’m probably biased (since I contributed two of the fifteen scenes which are performed in an order which is determined shortly prior to their performance by an extremely able, lively and on-the-ball young cast) but I really enjoyed it. Shorter and slicker than last time around, it’s rather like taking a ride through other people’s dreams (and nightmares). I hope it gets the attention it deserves amidst the frenzy of the Fringe.

The next night was something of a contrast – a preview performance of “Deep Cut” by Philip Ralph, at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff; a verbatim play (or journalistic drama) based on the story of Army recruit Cheryl James who died at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey in 1995, which is on its way to the Traverse. A highly impressive production, with excellent performances and clever visual touches (courtesy of director Mick Gordon and designer Igor Vasiliev), and all the more moving for focusing on the question of forensic evidence at least as much as the family’s anguish.

There’s obviously little new that can be said about the current Number 1 film in the world, Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”, other than I found it completely enthralling, though not exactly enjoyable, because of its general grimness. Some of the violence seems excessive for a film which 12 year-olds will be flocking to, but if the newspapers are to be believed, they’ve all seen a lot worse on the streets. Heath Ledger’s performance is utterly unhinged and, of course, Oscar-worthy. There’s some nice work too in small roles from an array of top character actors (e.g. William Fichtner, Tiny Lister, Colin MacFarlane), not to mention Gary Oldman; and Aaron Eckhart portrays the tragedy of Harvey Dent beautifully. The political resonances are obvious – unilateral, undemocratic and not entirely legal action being taken against an irrational villain whose main motivation is the desire to “watch the world burn”; but then that’s what superhero movies have always been about.


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