Blakeson - Writer

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

Monday, November 24, 2008

"See The Glory"

I was immoderately pleased with the reading of my play “See The Glory” at London’s Young Vic last week. A highly sympathetic and experienced director (Topher Campbell) and a perfect cast (Joe Mydell and Lisa Davina Philip, with Jason Rowe on sax); Talawa’s reputation and marketing nous even managed to secure a full house in the small (60 seats) studio space. There were even a couple of familiar faces from Wales there, which was nice. Given that the piece starts out as a fairly cosy kind of story then takes a dark turn, I was relieved that it seemed to hang together; it got some laughs too, in the right places, which is always good. One only hopes that its journey will continue.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Waterstones Cardiff pt.2

So now it would appear that Patrick Jones sought to provoke the controversy over his book of light verse by e-mailing poems to several extremist groups; furthermore, the BBC’s account appears to suggest that he initially denied this when interviewed. Thus the liberal-left anti-censorship lobby (of which I am a proud adherent) appear to have been used as part of a publicity-stunt. Faintly depressing. It seems somehow ironic that Nicky Wire (a sport-loving heterosexual male who wears dresses and make-up, revels in his minimalistic bass-playing, and named himself after an item of electrical hardware) appears to be the most sensible member of that family.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Love Forty" / Waterstones Cardiff

I was part of a full house in the Media Centre Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre to see a script-in-hand “On The Edge” presentation of “Love Forty”, an early play by Wales’ most popular playwright, Frank Vickery, dubbed the “Ayckbourn of the Valleys”; although this piece strays into Bergman territory, being a dissection of a forty-year middle-class marriage which was entered into cold-bloodedly. Producer-director Michael Kelligan, and Anwen Williams are Ralph (deceptively jolly) and Marcia (prickly and sarcastic), preparing to attend their Ruby Wedding celebration; they co-exist and increasingly interact with their younger, identically-dressed selves - James Aston and Naomi Martell. Despite some self-consciously laboured metaphors, and an ending which appears to verge on the glib (or maybe it was just rushed), the piece was both affecting and amusing. The author avoided the irritating phenomenon (fairly common in radio drama) where long-married characters have the kind of conversations which, realistically, would have to have occurred years before (“You mean you almost married Jim?”), since non-communication is inherent to the relationship; there were a couple of instances of “What’s that supposed to mean?”, however, which, in my view, is always worth taking the trouble to avoid.

Big news in Wales at the moment is the cancellation of a reading by poet Patrick Jones, at Waterstones in Cardiff, due to a threat by an organisation calling itself “Christian Voice”. Ridiculous, of course, but at least it will provide a welcome publicity-boost for his book “Darkness Is Where The Stars Are”, published by Cinnamon Press – to steal a line from The Rutles film, people will be buying copies in their thousands, just to burn them.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Red Light Company

I paid my first visit to the Cardiff Barfly for a while, to catch Red Light Company in concert. Opening were locals Scissorkick Victory – punky hard rock in the Biffy/Foos vein, and very enjoyable. Next up were The Hugs, teenagers from Portland, Oregon currently resident in London; likeable power-pop, perhaps insufficiently distinctive as yet, but they displayed an admirable tendency to rock out. The headliners - what with the long hair, and the ridiculously skinny trousers, and the cheekbones - look far too cool, but the music is excellent; sparkly pop gems delivered with élan. Rather a short set (40 minutes?), but they played all the singles (“With Lights Out”, “Meccano”, “Scheme Eugene”), so there were no complaints.

I’ve spent some time trying to get people to attend my play-reading at London’s Young Vic on November 20th, via Facebook and e-mail; no point having a high-profile big city showcase if no-one turns up. My current task is doing another draft of my sit-com script, after some encouraging feedback from the BBC – obviously a long shot, but one has to make the effort.

Delighted, of course, to see Barack Obama’s historic victory; my sincerest hope is for a boringly efficient, uneventful two-term presidency.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Catalan-Wales Drama Festival / The Week That Was

I attended the final night of the Parthian/Made In Wales Catalan-Wales Drama Festival in Chapter (with which I was tangentially involved), to see a double bill of recent Catalan plays. “Black Beach” by Jordi Coca (whose Franco-era novel “Under The Dust”, published in translation by Parthian, is well worth a read) was a two-hander in which ex-lovers spar backstage at a conference – its theme of manipulativeness within small-nation politics was very Welsh. “The Sale” by Lluisa Cunillé, involved the vendor of a flat and two would-be buyers all struggling to deal with heartbreak about which none felt able to speak. Both very solid, entertaining and well-acted pieces, perhaps chosen for their universality.

My Ibiza-set piece, “Dirty Something”, received a reading on the first night, which seemed to go down well with the small audience – at least they laughed in the right places. My cast (Claire Cage, Chris Morgan, Anita Reynolds), coped admirably with my fumbling attempts at direction.

Afterwards, I snuck off to Clwb Ifor Bach to catch The Week That Was, the latest musical project by Field Music’s Peter Brewis – intricate (without veering into prog-rock over-elaboration) and challenging, at least on the first hearing, but beautifully hypnotic, and ending with a version of “Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend”, which is always a good move. Supporting were local heroes The Spencer McGarry Season – more appealing pop cleverness.