Blakeson - Writer

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

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Classical Women Reworked" / "The Ordinary Three" / "Tati's Hotel"

Velvet Ensemble, the female-oriented theatre company operating out of both Cardiff and London held a fund-raising performance evening at the Gwdihw café-bar, aimed at supporting their next show, a play by Bethan Marlow. Entitled “Classical Women: Reworked”, it featured famous women’s speeches from history and literature re-interpreted by contemporary writers (Marlow, Matthew Bulgo, Poppy Corbett, Stella Duffy, Shelley Silas) in conjunction with female directors (Julie Barclay, Bridget Keehan, Sarah Bickerton and Catherine Paskell), performed by an excellent array of actresses (Lucy Rivers, Ffion Williams, Christine Pritchard, Tonya Smith, Rhian Blythe). Unfortunately, from my vantage point, the first two, both from Shakespeare, were largely inaudible. Things picked up after the interval, however: although Poppy Corbett’s re-interpretation of Queen Victoria’s ruminations on widowhood seemed redundant next to the original; Stella Duffy’s response to a speech by Emmeline Pankhurst was more of an essay than a performance piece; and Shelley Silas’s take on an extract from “Saint Joan” was the tale of a girl’s conversion to Islam which seemed a tad Pollyanna-ish. Still, there was a good turn-out, and the buckets that were passed round seemed to jingle encouragingly with coinage.

The latest rehearsed reading in the current On The Edge season at Chapter was “The Ordinary Three” by new writer Lotty Morris, directed by Elise Davison, featuring Polly Kilpatrick as a woman who, in collaboration with her thuggish boyfriend – Robert Harper – and a weak, easily led young recruit, played by Tom Mumford, brutalises a young man she has taken prisoner. A pretty effective allegory about the contagion of violence under totalitarianism, excellently played, as is customary. There was an unusually high number of local playwrights in the audience, obviously engaging in industrial espionage.

I paid a visit to the set of “Tati’s Hotel”, the new children’s TV series I’ve been writing for, in a converted warehouse in Grangetown. A fascinating day, spent mostly trying to keep out of the way of cast and crew and ensure that the flash on my camera didn’t go off on the middle of a take. I managed to chat to, amongst others, veteran Welsh actor John Pierce Jones, the guest artist on that particular episode. As always on such occasions, I was impressed not only by the work-rate and professionalism of all concerned, but the intimidating range of skills (technical, artistic, people) required of the director – in this case, Delyth Thomas – of such a sizeable project.

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