Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Into the Woods (Royal Exchange, Manchester)

Gillian Bevan as the Witch

The problem with Into the Woods is that it finishes half way through. James Lapine's story is definitely a game of two halves, and it's the second half which really lets down the first. This is a common complaint about Into the Woods, and there seems to have been little attempt by Matthew Xia, the director of this production, to avoid this.

And maybe that's because it's largely unfixable. The ponderous nature of the second half - which fixates on the nature of cause and effect, who's really to blame for the events of the first half, and the grander notion of destiny and responsibility - drags the production to such a halt that the magic of what's gone before is soiled.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Saturday Night Forever (Theatr Clwyd, Mold)

Delme Thomas. Pic: Keith Morris

Monologues are tricky things to pull off. By definition, there's only one performer, so that performer has to be at the top of their game to grab the audience's attention and keep it, captivated, imprisoned, enchanted, for the length of the piece. In the case of Saturday Night Forever, actor Delme Thomas more than capably scoops up every single person watching him and takes them on a rollercoaster journey which runs the whole gamut of human emotion. This is a powerful piece performed by a powerful actor who knows his craft, and makes for essential viewing.

Thomas plays Lee, a young gay man living in Cardiff who tells us his story. He starts off by telling us about his life with his boyfriend Matthew, how and why that relationship crumbled, and then how a new relationship developed. It's a pretty straightforward story - one of love and lust, anguish and tragedy - but playwright Roger Williams has laced it with such truth and honesty that whether you're gay or straight, young or old, you can't help but relate to Lee's life.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Cinderella: The Panto with Soul (Theatr Clwyd, Mold)

Alex Parry as Verucca, James Haggie as Buttons and Dan
Bottomley as Hernia. Pics: Phil Cutts

It's a lovely touch that Judith Croft, the designer of this all-singing, all-dancing panto at Theatr Clwyd, has transformed the auditorium into a fairytale location, extending the magic of the stage into the audience, making the set just as inclusive as the dialogue.

Because that's what panto is all about - getting the audience involved in the action, making them feel part of things, and inspiring young minds into perhaps one day returning to the theatre to try something new and different. Eager young eyes watching Cinders go to the ball in 2015 are the discerning box office fodder of 2035, after all...