Blakeson - Writer

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

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Egin / Osborne

I went to see a couple of shows in this year’s “Springboard/Egin” season – Sherman Cymru’s short (certainly shorter than the last one) festival of new work for theatre - both penned by fellow members of the “Exquisite Corpse” team.

The first was Lacuna, written by Matthew Bulgo, and directed by Suzanne Phillips, which depicts sessions between a traumatised patient - who seems in perfect physical and mental health, with the exception that the lacuna of the title is her lover, whom she can no longer see - and a suspiciously over-invested doctor. One could readily imagine how the clever premise could have led us up an arty cul-de-sac, but mercifully the author kept it on a deeply relatable level, with heart-breaking, poetic dialogue (perhaps occasionally over-written); and the performances, by Gareth Milton and Caitlin Richards, were affecting and witty.

A couple of nights later saw another play about emotional voids – Tracy Harris’ The Cloak Room (a more fully realised staging than Lacuna, directed by Amy Hodge), in which Roger Evans played a psychologically troubled man who steals coats and invests them with the imagined personalities of people he has lost, and Siwan Morris the woman who tries to redeem him. Again, very lyrical and moving, although the female character’s motivation remained obscure (but then, such is life). It will be performed again as part of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival’s Welsh Event in Washington D.C. in a few weeks time – very fitting as a representative sample of theatrical writing in contemporary South Wales.

The latest in the On The Edge season at Chapter featured a double bill of new plays – “A Pair of Cardiff Shorts” - by local legend Alan Osborne, one of the progenitors of the profane, poetic, surrealistic South Wales style. The first, “The Best Defensive Boxer In The Bay! Nay, The World” is about a pugilist whose aim is to become the world champion loser; the second, a less broadly humorous, more abstract piece, “Until, Box and Sometimes Sally”, has as its hero a blind man whose friends tell him stories to stir (or maybe constrain) his visual imagination. Despite the fact that these were script-in-hand readings, director Russell Gomer kept things moving admirably, and the cast (Nathan Sussex as the related central protagonists of both pieces, as well as Boyd Clack, Dean Rehman, Cler Stephens and Mali Tudno Jones) ably conveyed the pathos and humour in both pieces. More stimulation in a little under an hour than an entire season of Big Brother could provide.


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