Blakeson - Writer

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

Monday, September 14, 2009

The City / The Wire

I only attended one play in the Sherman Cymru’s Directors’ Week mini-festival, organised in collaboration with Living Pictures, in which relatively new theatre directors were let loose on texts by internationally renowned writers; thus I missed pieces by Bryony Lavery and Athol Fugard. Martin Crimp’s “The City”, however, directed by Bridget Keehan, was a joy. Starting out as a 1970s-style drama depicting the collapsing middle-class marriage of on-the-edge Chris (played by Matthew Bulgo), and too-complacent-for-comfort Clair (Alex Alderton), it drifts, subtly and organically, into humanistic abstraction. This is signalled by the appearance of their neighbour, a traumatised young nurse played with compelling awkwardness by Ceri Mill; and the mood is intensified when their disturbingly self-possessed daughter (a role shared on a show-by-show basis by Megan Hill-Clement and Isabella Hughes) turns up. Beautiful performances and a slick production (Carolina Vasquez’ video-work depicting the passing of the seasons was an eye-catching highlight), in a piece which appears to be about the fantasies we weave in order to maintain our psychological equilibrium (cf. “The Iceman Cometh”). Pretty much flawless.

Having successfully completed BBC2’s “The Wire” marathon, one is bound to reflect on what made it so unusually good. Co-creator Ed Burns outlined his rules on “The Culture Show” earlier in the year :- “Know Your Subject”, “It’s All In The Casting”, “Never Explain” and “Keep It Real”. Other considerations might include not forgetting to utilise humour, foregrounding self-consciously elegant dialogue, and the importance of providing hope amidst the despair. The pre-eminent factor, though, of course, is that creative control was in the hands of talented writers rather than accountants or executives.


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