Review: The Story / Hela, Theatre503

The Other Room’s The Story and Hela make a delightful and daring double bill of Welsh drama at Theatre503

Do’s dim hawl ’da ti adael,
You don’t get to leave,
Do’s dim hawl ’da ti anghofio pwy wyt ti
You don’t get to forget who you really are”

A brilliant idea this – Cardiff’s OG pub theatre The Other Room has gathered up the three plays that made up their recent The Violence Series and sent them out on tour. They’re mainly visiting Welsh venues but there’s also a stop at Theatre503, allowing London audiences a highly tempting taster of the quality of work available at the other end of the M4.

I caught two of the three – The Story and Hela being presented in a double bill, Matthew Bulgo’s American Nightmare making up the set of dystopian dramas. That said, you have to wonder at what point we stop calling it dystopia and simply call it tomorrow, a pressing sense of disturbing resonance and relevance that is particularly brought out in Tess Berry-Hart’s The Story. Continue reading “Review: The Story / Hela, Theatre503”

Countdown to new Who: Doctor Who Series 8

“You are the chief executive officer of the human race”

It was quite interesting to rewatch Series 8 of Doctor Who, one which I hadn’t revisited at all since it originally aired, as my memories thereof were not at all positive. And whilst disappointments remained – Robin Hood, 2D cartoons, the treeees! – there was also much to enjoy that I’d forgotten about. The smash-and-grab of Time Heist, the simplicity of ghost story Listen, and the ominous darkness of the finale.

I’m still in two minds about Peter Capaldi’s Twelve though, I want to like him so much more than I do, and I think you do get the sense of him feeling his way into his irascible take on the role. Jenna Coleman’s Clara benefits from being released from the yoke of impossibility to move to the forefront of several episodes and if she’s still a little hard to warm to, that finale really is superbly done. And then there’s Michelle Gomez, stealing the whole damn thing magnificently! Continue reading “Countdown to new Who: Doctor Who Series 8”

Review: Violence and Son, Royal Court

“I’m not like that.

Even now, a week after I saw Gary Owen’s Violence and Son, I still don’t know what to say about it or more importantly, how to say it – it’s a rare thing for a play to stun me into such silence but a magnificent one too. Cai Dyfan’s circular set recalls the similar set-up for Mike Bartlett’s Cock but with its dirty white plastic chairs and drab demeanour, it speaks of something or somewhere more desperate – in this particular case, the isolation of the Welsh valleys but only a fool would say this story and its ramifications, as searchingly highlighted by director Hamish Pirie, are limited to that sole location.

Life is tough enough as a Doctor Who fan but 17-year-old Liam is suffering more than most after his mother’s death has meant to has to move Wales to live with the father who left before he was even born. Rick, whose nickname gives the show its title, claims to have last been sober when he was 14 and rage follows in his every footstep as he thinks nothing of battering everything and everyone around him. And as father and son get to know each other, Owen makes a powerful argument about the appalling toxicity of stereotypical notions of masculinity but also how difficult it is to shake a generational legacy.  Continue reading “Review: Violence and Son, Royal Court”