Blakeson - Writer

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

"Where Do Little Birds Go" / "Seen" at The Other Room

The second Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival took place last week, colonising unusual venues in various parts of town. I only managed to make it to one show: the Welsh premiere of Camilla Whitehill’s “Where Do Little Birds Go”, in the intimate downstairs vault of the Little Man Coffee Company in the city centre. A one-person play based on the true story of a young woman’s traumatic involvement with the Kray twins in 1960s London, it was highly evocative, with a very effective central performance from Kate Elis, and some clever sound design.

Kate Elis (photo: Ben Jones)

More recently, following on from June’s Young Artists Festival at The Other Room, the temporary companies which were formed to perform short plays by established writers were re-convened. This time we gave those pieces which were written by newer playwrights during the week another rehearsed reading, this time in front of a paying audience, under the banner of the venue’s regular “Seen” events. Thus, I got the chance to direct three of my original four actors in a re-staging of Gareth Ford Elliot’s drug-dealer monologue “Bull Shade Skank”, which was great fun. It was also useful sitting in on the post-show feedback session, during which audience-members offered valuable insights into each of the pieces (the other writers being Luke Nixon, Jenna Beth Lowendahl, Hefin Robinson and Melangell Dolma). A much-needed reprise.

By the way, I wrote more extensively about my experience of the Young Artists Festival on my National Theatre Wales Community blog.

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Thursday, July 06, 2017

"Baby Driver" / "Moment(o)s"

Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver” is obviously the work of a man who is obsessed with both pop cinema and pop music, playing much of the time like an extended, Tarantino-influenced music video. It is the story of a tinnitus-afflicted young getaway driver, played by Ansel Elgort, who gets in too deep with his ruthless boss - Kevin Spacey at his playfully chilling best – whilst falling in love with Lily James’ guileless waitress. The arrival of Jamie Foxx’s truly unpleasant hard-ass criminal signals a turn away from shallow showiness, while Jon Hamm also impresses as a more ostensibly friendly co-conspirator. Boasting much audacious synchronisation of soundtrack with action, and some witty car-chases, “Baby Driver” is technically impressive, whilst not being too cool to make us care about the central protagonists. Beautifully done.

Lily James and Ansel Elgort in "Baby Driver" (Working Title)

My most recent theatre reviewing assignment was “Moment(o)s”, actress and director Elaine Paton’s account of her struggles with mental illness, turned into a kind of cabaret, with the help of local performance art duo Mrs & Mrs Clark. Uneasily entertaining, and full of unhappy reminders of my years working at Whitchurch Hospital.

"Moment(o)s (pic: Kirsten McTernan)

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