Friday, March 13, 2015

The Magic Flute (Venue Cymru, Llandudno)

The Welsh National Opera's production of Mozart's The Magic Flute is a visual feast, packed with bold colours and Lewis Carroll-style absurdities, such as a giant killer lobster and a menagerie of amusing zoo animals.

The Magic Flute tells the story of Tamino, who at the top of the production is rescued from being killed by a murderous lobster  (don't ask) by three ladies, all of whom fall desperately in lust with him. This opening routine gets things off to a great start, with the aforementioned crustacean snapping its claws at Tamino through several doors until it is defeated. Tamino finds himself in a nine-doored room in the sky and after meeting a birdcatcher called Papageno, is challenged by the Queen of the Night to rescue her daughter Pamina from the evil clutches of Sarastro.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Herbal Bed (Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold)

If our courts judged us today as the people of England were judged in the 17th century, we'd surely all be in jail or penniless. That, or wearing a white smock and standing in the porch of our local church every Sunday as public penance.

The late Peter Whelan's phenomenally engrossing The Herbal Bed tells the true story of Susanna Hall, the daughter of a certain Mr William Shakespeare, who, in the bawdy summer of 1613, becomes embroiled in a devastating public accusation of adultery which threatens her entire family.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tân (Galeri, Caernarfon)

Anybody familiar with the history of the Welsh language and the campaign to save it from dying out in recent years will have heard of the Welsh Not. For those unaware, it was a wooden sign which some schoolchildren in Wales were forced to wear around their necks if they were ever caught speaking Welsh. The board would be passed from child to child depending on who was last caught speaking Welsh, and the child left with it at the end of the day was punished.

It was part of a concerted effort in the early Victorian era to stamp out Welsh and drive it into extinction, but luckily attitudes changed toward the language in the 20th century and over the last 100 years or so there have been dedicated efforts to rescue it from the brink and repopularise it.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

National Dance Company Wales Spring 2015 (Venue Cymru, Llandudno)


National Dance Company Wales's 2015 Spring Programme shares two pieces that were also performed during their 2014 tour, but luckily I got to see three brand new routines when they visited Llandudno this week. The three pieces are very different and serve to satisfy an audience with eclectic tastes in modern and contemporary dance.

It kicks off with the superlative Walking Mad, a sprawling set-piece choreographed by Swede Johan Inger which imaginatively and wittily uses a garden fence to help move the performance along.