Blakeson - Writer

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"I Am Angela Brazil"

The spectacle of the venerable Boyd Clack in a dress (and trousers) - a middle-aged man not quite pretending to be a woman. This is the latest treat provided by the Welsh Fargo Stage Company in their series of “On The Edge” readings at Chapter. Lucinda Coxon’s apparently little-performed monologue “I Am Angela Brazil”, directed by Hugh Thomas. Nothing to do with the children’s author of the same name, except that the title evokes a long-lost, girlish innocence as the protagonist, a tortured, adulterous woman, relays her troublesome dreams and fears. On a set consisting of a chair, and a table on which sits a glass of water, Clack is a reassuring presence, all charm, charisma and gravitas, only glancing occasionally at his script. The writing is elegant, poetic, occasionally profane, and captivating, despite the coldness of the character and the many levels of ironic distance between her and her audience. Beautifully done.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Sharon Van Etten

I paid a rare visit to the Glee Club in Cardiff Bay, finally catching up with New York singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten – a show which was rescheduled from September, when she chose to appear on Jools Holland’s “Later” instead (although he’s forgiven to a degree, because, in the interim, I finally read his excellent autobiography “Barefaced Lies and Boogie Woogie Boasts”). First on was Georgia Ruth, the much-lauded singer-harpist from Aberystwyth, who played a hauntingly beautiful five song set. The second support act was West-Country four-piece outfit This Is The Kit – banjo-led folk, lent a dark, hypnotic tone by some rolling bass and fuzz guitar; very likeable.

The headline set got off to a stumbling start due to sound problems (although, over the evening, the acoustics were excellent, perhaps since the Glee is a comedy club, so one would expect them to prioritise vocal clarity), but Sharon Van Etten and her band (Doug, Heather, and on the drums, Zeke), ploughed on with great good humour. Seamlessly drifting between plaintive indie-guitar folk and Velvet Underground-influenced drone rock, Van Etten was charm personified, dedicating one song to a family friend in the audience, and admitting that watching people singing along to her lyrics made her want to cry. My personal favourite, “One Day”, wasn’t on the set-list, but even the unfamiliar tunes made an immediate impression, and “Serpents” especially came alive.

Frankly, a magical night.

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Sunday, December 09, 2012

"Peter Pan" / "Whispers on the Waves"

I was lucky enough to see two Christmas shows for families this week, courtesy of the British Theatre Guide. Both highly entertaining and accomplished, but very different. Sherman Cymru's "Peter Pan" was a version of J. M. Barrie's (although he isn't credited) original, by Rob Evans, with excellent songs by Dafydd James and a cast largely consisting of recent drama-school graduates, although dominated by Russell Gomer's Captain Hook. Philip Michell's "Whispers on the Waves", from Odyssey/Hijinx, took as its starting point the South Wales radio ham who picked up distress signals from the Titanic, days before news of the disaster became known, and saw a young couple observing ghosts from the past as they ponder their future. Again, experiences I'd have missed out on for different reasons (in the first case, high ticket prices; in the second, general lack of awareness), had I not been given the opportunity to review them.

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