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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

ED FRINGE 2014 : Dylan Thomas - Clown in the Moon : VENUE 35 ★★★★★

In this centenary year of poet Dylan Thomas’ birth, many an ambitious theatrical ‘celebration’ has ended before it begins at any beginning. National Theatre Wales’ recent LlaReggub Revisited was a ‘reimagined’ mess of raw material, masquerading as ‘Art’, shamefully outshone by the simplicity of Clwyd Theatre Cymru’s touring Under Milk Wood’.  But neither totally captured the wealth, warmth and wit of Dylan’s dark and delicious diction, as Gwynne Edwards has done in his marvelous monologue  ‘Dylan Thomas : Clown in the Moon’. Resting in the confident hands of Rhodri Miles, his poetic thoughts and feelings sing from Swansea to Chelsea, London to New York. Miles has that electric ability to grind each word from his early playful Clown in the Moon and Fern Hill to the dying gentle rage of that good night. From the shadows of the BBC Studio to the turbulent torment of his hut in Laugharne, each haunting memory is aided by the lyrical wealth of words, and perfect delivery. ‘Do not go gentle, into that good night’ without having spent an hour with this clever clown in the moon.

ED FRINGE 2014 : Whatever Happened to LaLa Shockette : VENUE 43 ★★★★★

If Edinburgh is all about your star rating, ‘Whatever Happened to LaLa Shockette’ has the ability to dazzle, not only by the brilliance of Lowri-Ann Richards comic routine, but also the abundance of well known 80’s pop icons, she’s bonked and bumped into, over the years. From her humble Welsh beginnings, beautifully captured by her opening number, the purity soon descends into a colorful and complicated life, ending up at the Priory. I recognized Lowri-Ann from her early-televised comedy shows on S4C (Channel 4 Wales) in the nineties, long after her eclectic alter ego ‘LaLa Shockette’ had outshone even Danny La Rue (having only achieved one ‘La’!) from Soho to Wembley. Boy George, the McCartney’s, Steve Strange… chefs Heston and Marco (and even Delia!) are only a taster of what lies between her photomontage of memories and videos. Combined with a smooth and slick running technical show (including a follow spot, two dancers, piano and a glitter bomb!), the stories (and tears) fall off the hat stand as easy and colorful as the costumes.  A star filled brilliant cabaret, in a not so brilliant venue.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

ED FRINGE 2014 : Llais/Voice : VENUE 53 ★★★★★

If theatre is a journey, then you must join Elgan Rhys on his extremely personal and physically emotional battle through his young life.  The irony of ‘Llais/Voice’ is the lack of a spoken language, only to be engulfed in an emotional turmoil of ‘who am I?’ against a barrage of bullying and masculine stereotyping.  Stripped bare of his mortal existence, he allows us into his webcam of troubled thoughts, streamed and replayed before us, raw and real, laden with resonating meaning. Sweat and tears stream as easily as the beauty of his bravery, closing with his thoughts and silent words, powerfully paraded on placards. A truly moving and memorable show, brilliantly and beautifully brought to life. Thank you. Diolch.

Taith gorfforol ac emosiynnol, a hynod o bersonol Elgan, wrth gyfleu yn ddi-lais ond yn ddirdynnol o weledol, ei boen o gael ei fwlio, a’i frwydr mewnol i adnabod a charu ei hun. Wedi cwta eiliadau o gychwyn y sioe, mae’n plymio i ddyfnderoedd ei angst, ac yn diosg ei ddillad (a’i bresenoldeb bydol), i grombil amrwd ei emosiynnau. Mae’n gwahodd y byd, drwy lygaid y cyfrifiadur a’i sgrin enfawr, i fod yn dystion distaw i fanylion bychan ei boen. Drwy ddagrau a chwys, mae’n llwyddo i gyfleu’r cyfan, sy’n cael ei grisialu’n gelfydd o eiriol, drwy gyfres o sleidiau anisgwyl, ar ddiwedd y sioe.  Mewn tri chwarter awr dramatig, fe dreiddiodd i fêr ei ofnau a’i atgofion, gan lusgo’r gwaddol yn weledol, sef un o arfau pwysicaf pob actor. Llongyfarchiadau enfawr iddo, a’i dri gydweithiwr am lwyddo i fynd â ni ar daith theatrig cofiadwy tu hwnt. Gobeithio’n wir y bydd ei ddawn a’i stori yn cael ei rannu a’i ddatblygu’n helaeth ar lwyfannau Cymru, a thu hwnt.

Monday, 18 August 2014

ED FRINGE 2014 : Burton : VENUE 35 ★★★★★

The completely ignored fact that Burton, and its partnering alternate show Clown in the Moon, was given an upgraded venue mid festival (due to popular audience demand) is ample praise of the positive reviews given to these two masterful monologues by Welsh actor Rhodri Miles.  From his first few steps into the spotlight, Richard Burton, the forty six year old actor, comes alive on stage, drowning his depression in constant drinking, as he retells the colorful tales of his life. Gwynne Edwards’ tightly treated text, enriched with all the quintessential classic theatrical treats, rages and resonates from deep within the Miles magic. From Rhydyfen to Holywood, from birth to bedded bliss, each memory melts with regret, frustrated at not being able to financially support his whole family and friends. Carefully chosen breaths are guided by guilt, then ditched and drowned by the now, neat, catharsis. The “bravo” at his curtain call is totally deserved and echoes the brilliance of Burton.  ★★★★★

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

My Night with Reg : Donmar : ★★★★★

Identifying and sympathizing with all the characters in a play is either a sign of a well-lived life or the true genius of a playwright. On my journey home from the Donmar Warehouse, I too felt like I’d been used, abused and ultimately seduced by ‘My Night with Reg’.  

Six men, all sexually attracted to other men, in one London flat, over the course of a few years.  Five ‘friends’ who hardly know their true selves, never mind each other. Ok, we’ve all been there – a ‘Guy’ (Jonathan Broadbent) the harbor in heartbreak, the confessional for all their sins or the convenient companionship between relationships. We’ve all had our ‘John’ (Julien Ovenden) moments of madness, where alcohol fuelled passion blinds and leads us down the one night cul-de-sac of ‘fun’ – for them, without an ounce of guilt towards their long-suffering ‘open relationships’. Then the inquisitive innocence of the eighteen year old  ‘Eric’ (Lewis Reeves) wanting to experiment, exchanging virginity for the possibility of everlasting love, only to wake up to the realization that you’re nothing more than yet another, one night stand. And finally the stereotypical ‘couple’ that can’t live with or without each other, whose sexual gratification is never fulfilled, and open to secret encounters.

Originally set in the 1980's, this production dissolves the decades by fusing fashion and refurbishing retro, which resonates its nature and ultimate lesson, to all generations. Even before the Grinding and Gay-daring, the promiscuous and playful, couldn’t-give-a-damn, attitude of what-you-want-when-you-want-it, was conveniently and ignorantly embraced. The 80’s became the new 60’s, and in many ways, still is. Who’s right or wrong here? Who earns most respect? Who is the happiest, and why? 

Under a less experienced, insensitive directorial leadership, or with a self-obsessed, ignorant cast, these colorful and comical camp characters could turn this true-to-nature play into a pink pounding pantomime.  But the respect and dignified personal experience portrayed, lifts this moral tale of our times, to memorable and emotional heights.

Everyone will react differently, depending on his or her current situation and state of mind, but Kevin Elyot’s masterpiece of men’s minds raises many questions, which only we can answer.