by Caradoc Evans adapted by Steffan Donnelly.
Clwyd Theatr Cymru (Emlyn Williams Theatre) Mold CH7 1YA To 21 November 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Sat 2.45pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 01352 701521.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 16 November.
Visions of hell from a country’s past.
After seeing this adaptation of Caradoc Evans’ stories anyone might conclude Dylan Thomas was really soft on the Welsh folk of ‘bugger-all-backwards’. All starts pleasantly as people sidle in to a clean, modern chapel, with white walls and plenty of windows in the artful set by Cécile Trémolières.
But as the preacher, in everyday suit, climbs a few steps, as into a pulpit, and talks pleasantly to his little congregation, a couple of soon-to-be newlyweds holding hands in coy happiness at his reference to their nuptials to come, the tone momentarily alters.
As if a gap had opened on the hellfire religion of a century back a mighty wind arises, the room darkens, the preacher’s voice becomes heavily condemnatory, and all eyes turn on the focus of the dramatic ire – a young woman, who remains shocked after the momentary blast has passed, everything returning – for a time – to placid normality.
But the angrier days of pulpit power return, when the local chapel fought any sign of what it judged sinful irregularity. A century ago, Evans’ book confronted west Wales conformity much as Germans and British faced each other at the likes of Ypres. And with results about as explosive. The causes, of course, were local and apparently small-scale, though they mattered hugely to the people involved.
The cruelties, oppression and violence wrought between, and within, individuals builds in a world where Evans’ book is recurrently revealed, like Holy Writ, on a shelf. Doors and windows open on scenes or images of violence or suffering – an animal carcass strung-up overhead is matched by feet hanging behind a door.
Co-produced by Invertigo Theatre and Theatr Clwyd, stories of lust, rejection and financial rapacity weave through each other to make a pattern of suffering, ignorance and moral blindness that undermines chapel ethics and any positive sense of community.
The modern scenes framing this emphasise the newness of the internet. For all modernity’s problems, by the play’s end – especially with the conviction and fluidity of ensemble playing this visually inventive production provides – it feels better to be back in modern, less claustrophobic times
Cast: Sion Alun Davies, Michael Geary, Valmai Jones, Roanna Lewis, Rhys Meredith, Hugh Thomas.
Directors: Steffan Donnelly, Aled Pedrick.
Designer: Cécile Trémolières.
Lighting: Malcolm Rippeth.
Sound: Dyfan Jones.
Composer: Tom Recknell.
Movement: Sian Williams.
Fights director: Rachel Bown-Williams.
My People is a co-production between Theatr Clwyd and Invertigo Theatre.