Sunday, 9 February 2020

The Violence Series @ Theatr Clwyd, Mold


The Violence Series is a set of three dystopian style drama’s, set Orwellian style in a world that is recognisably ours, but one which we have not quite attained. They are not physically frightening plays, more a bleak window into the future, which is often more disturbing than watching a fight break out when you begin to realise the future portrayed is not that far off.

The plays were commissioned by The Other Room, an award-winning pub-theatre in Cardiff. The Other Room is renowned for making drama that is both distinctive and visionary; drama that makes you think about the consequences long after you’ve gone home. Each of the three plays are profoundly different, but they all explore the divisions in society and look at the darker side of humanity.



American Nightmare by Matthew Bulgo

Ahhhh, the American Dream. The belief that everyone has the opportunity to pursue their own happiness. It doesn’t matter where you are born, what class of society you are in, or what religion you follow, you can achieve whatever level of success you want. Success is possible to anyone through hard work and sacrifice, taking risks rather than relying on luck to get you to your goal.

Sounds ideal…but what happens when the distance between the American reality and the American Dream becomes an enormous yawning cavern? What happens when the American Dream becomes an American Nightmare? Just how far are you willing to go to keep pursuing your Dream?

Sunday, 2 February 2020

How to Kill a Narcissist and Killing Narcissism by J H Simon


“The Penny Drops

The fact that you’re reading this book means you’re onto something. Maybe a particular event burst the bubble and a small gap opened up as a result. A gap in what, you’re not sure, but you felt it. It happened when a significant person in your life went that little bit too far, and you finally said to yourself: “This is not normal. Why am I tolerating this crap?””

What makes you start questioning the friendship/relationship you’re in?

Is it one-sided? When you try to express an opinion is it always side-lined as stupid or irrelevant? Does your friend twist things so that they are the focal point again? Are they able to manipulate you by putting up so many arguments or obstacles that it’s pointless carrying on? Do you get tired of walking on eggshells around the person because you know that one slip of the tongue will cause an unnecessary emotive reaction? Do they try to supress you from being yourself…to make you feel inferior? Does this person always have a drama unfolding around them that they just have to share with everybody around them? Do you actually get any real pleasure from the relationship, or are you just kidding yourself that it’s fun, fun, fun?

At the point you start asking yourselves these questions, you’re also probably trying to find an answer to them….just to make sure you haven’t actually gone insane. Google becomes your best friend as you start reading up on Narcissistic Personality Disorder and the various articles make you realise that you have been trapped in a world you didn’t believe you could ever be dragged into.

Phrases like “gaslighted” are used. I’ve seen the play Gaslight from which the term derives from…surely not? I’m savvy…aren’t I? I couldn’t be manipulated like that…or could I? And why would I befriend someone like that in the first place? You read more and more, and then suddenly you see an offer on a book and you buy it and as you read it you realise just how you managed to fall down the rabbit hole so easily.

The problem is trying to establish what is normal human behaviour and what is narcissistic behaviour. This book tries to unravel this question by looking at who narcissists are and to whom they are most likely to target and why. If you can understand the core of the problem, you are better equipped at dealing with it and ensuring you are not the target of other narcissists in the future.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Murder on Mulholland Drive, Theatr Clwyd (Mold)

OK, let’s get this straight from the start, this is not a stage version of David Lynch’s strange neo-noir 2001 film starring Naomi Watts. 

Mulholland Drive is a road that stretches 21 miles in Southern California, USA, which takes in scenic views of the Hollywood sign, Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley. It has some of the most famous and expensive houses in the world and is home to several Hollywood celebrities; and it makes the perfect setting for an Agatha Christie style whodunnit!




Who Killed Houston Ziegfried McCoy?

Murder on Mulholland Drive is a murder mystery play written and starring Richard Jones of Pheonix Theatre Company, Mold, a familiar name to those who frequent Theatr Clwyd. Set in the 1950’s, it is a cautionary tale of what could happen to a sleazy, middle-aged man, who happens to be head of one of the most powerful film studios in Hollywood. Houston Ziegfried McCoy has helped many hopeful starlets achieve their ambitions, but his methods have made him many enemies along the way.

Monday, 20 January 2020

An Inspector Calls, The Lowry (Salford)

Well my 2020 theatre season has commenced with a splendid big bang! The English novelist and playwright J B Priestly, wrote what is probably regarded as his most well-known drama, An Inspector Calls, in 1945. Surprisingly, the play was first performed in that year in Moscow; the first performance in English took place in London the following year. It stood to reason that a cinematic version would follow and in 1954 Alastair Sim took on the role of the titular inspector. It is a contender for one of my favourite films of all time and whilst other film versions have been made, the original version remains the best in my humble opinion.


In 1992, Stephen Daldry decided that his directorial debut at The National Theatre, London, would be this old warhorse of a text. Was this to be a stroke of genius or professional suicide? Most productions of An Inspector Calls, which is set in 1912, would take place in a reconstructed, historically accurate Edwardian drawing room, complete with period furniture and heavy on the crystal decanters etc. Those productions subconsciously take you back to a past era, but the issues back then are still affecting modern audiences; probably more so now with the advent of technology and the inability to “get away from it all,” so how do you keep the feel of the original play, but make it relevant for a modern audience?

Instead of keeping with tradition, Daldry changed the setting to 1945, when the play was written. He had such a fresh, imaginative approach to the staging of An Inspector Calls, that the traditional boring drawing room drama seems to have died out. I’m thrilled that I can now say that I’ve experienced his visionary production, including Ian MacNeil’s house on stilts, first-hand.