Blakeson - Writer

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

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

"Last Christmas" / "The Spirit Of Christmas" / "Get On Up"

Finally, a year after its initial production, I managed to catch Matthew Bulgo’s one-person play “Last Christmas”, from Dirty Protest, in Cardiff’s Porter’s Bar. This follows on from a very well-reviewed Edinburgh Fringe run, and precedes a brief Welsh tour and a fortnight at London’s Soho Theatre. Sion Pritchard is Tom, a London-based office-worker and would-be filmmaker, who makes the traumatic trip home to Swansea on Christmas Eve. It boasts a witty script, see-sawing between the acidic and the sentimental, and a fine performance. And it also served as an unofficial preview of what productions might look like when The Other Room, director Kate Wasserberg’s pub theatre venture, opens at that same venue in the New Year.

My most recent reviewing assignment for British Theatre Guide was “The Spirit Of Christmas” in the Weston Studio at the Wales Millennium Centre. This is the now-annual festive offering from inclusive theatre company Hijinx, and their associated community arm, Odyssey. It told the story of a girl’s quest to find out about her grandmother’s roots in Cardiff, but the narrative was of secondary importance; an entertainingly ramshackle, celebratory evening.

I also saw and greatly enjoyed “Get On Up” (full review here), Tate Taylor’s bio-pic of deeply flawed musical genius, James Brown. Its freewheeling structure, courtesy of British screenwriters Jez and John-Henry Butterworth cleverly gives the impression of a rambling, disordered mind, and Chadwick Boseman gives a star-making performance in the lead role. Plaudits must also go to Nelsan Ellis as Bobby Byrd, who provides the soul to Brown’s funk.

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