"Jem & Ella" / "What Mid-Life Crisis" / "Constellation St." / "Fear Of Drowning"
Another stimulating couple of weeks of theatre-reviewing.
It began with “Jem & Ella”, at the Sherman - the latest phase of a continuing father-daughter dance/theatre project, co-created by choreographer Jem Treays and his twelve-year-old daughter Ella. It could have been a rather sentimental, tear-jerking exploration of their relationship but for the high quality of the movement on display.
Then came “Dick Johns – What Mid-Life Crisis” at Chapter, in which the actor also known as Dick Bradnum hosted an amusing cabaret-style show based around middle-age, as a vehicle for a number of his short stories. Odd to watch a show in which someone who is younger than oneself meditates on his advancing years; but at least I won some chocolates in the pub-style quiz.
Then there was the latest from The Other Room – Matthew Bulgo’s “Constellation St.” Four monologues, each presented on a different, meticulously designed set within the tiny venue at Porter’s Bar; each focusing on inter-linked, troubled lives. Well up to their usual standard, although the nature of the presentation, with the audience split into groups to experience the segments in a different order, ingeniously managed as though it is, means that one will always miss out on one of the story-strands.
Most recently there was P.R.W. Jenkins’ “Fear Of Drowning” back at Chapter, a runner-up in the 2012 Wales Drama Award, and the first production from Black Sheep Theatre. Basically two plays in one – a romantic comedy and a surreal environmental anti-buddy movie - so a tad unclear in its narrative intentions, but featuring some excellent comic performances.
This last was experienced only an hour after I had heard the news of the passing of one of my true musical heroes, Prince; which followed hard on the equally untimely and shocking loss of Victoria Wood. There seems to be a lot of sneering when the word “grief” is mentioned in connection with the deaths of celebrities; but if someone has made a positive contribution to your life, even from a great distance, losing them is undeniably distressing.