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Review: NTW - {150} @ Royal Opera House Stores

Posted by Weeping Tudor from Cardiff - Published on 01/07/2015 at 14:31
0 comments » - Tagged as Dance, History, People, Stage, Yn Gymraeg

  • 150 Screenshot

National Theatre Wales, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru & S4C{150} 
Royal Opera House Stores, Abercwmboi, Aberdare
Tuesday 30th June 2015

Being the butt of most jokes, Y Wladfa (The Colony) is Wales' little empire.

Some 8,000 miles away, just over 150 years ago a troupe of Welsh people ventured across the Atlantic, to preserve their language and culture.

I feel much respect for these pioneers who gave up everything and stared afresh in the new world, the ancestors of which still live there today.

This is a side of Welsh culture I had known little about. Here National Theatre Wales, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru and S4C have collaborated to bring new understandings of the history and current state of our "colony". Heading up to the Valleys once more, this multimedia marvel is sheer spectacle and needs to be seen.

This work also made me discover that the Royal Opera House in London have costumes and sets from over 150 shows stored here in Aberdare. I still can't understand why they are housed here, but the visit alone was impressive.

As the audience lurked outside the storehouse, a lorry slowly arrived from inside with antique voice recorders and a lady clad in a severe hood and dress of the time, clutching an ostrich feather. Welsh words are heard over the speakers and thus began our own journey to Patagonia...

We arrive into the huge store and see and hear the booming Michael D. Jones, the minister who founded the Welsh in Patagonia. The actor playing him sure knew how to project, as we passed long corridors with these hooded women at the far end, like a sort of miniature portrait. He forced his way past the crowd, bashing into my back in the process.

Mark Rees, with the look of an aged hipster guided us around in Welsh, as another artist and academic taught us this lesson in Welsh adventure. At times the show was terribly cold, in other instances emotionally wrought. John Hardy's subtle, ambient music adding great atmosphere to the piece. At times, the show was dance heavy, the hooded women flailing around like no tomorrow, at one point busting out moves to bass drops in tacky dance music then giving the audience grains via a teapot (I wasn't given any so I grabbed some as we left).

The film work was less interesting. Pobol y Cwm on S4C has a young actress Elizabeth Fernandez Navarta from Argentina. Called Galesa, it accounts her return home and how those around her perceive her new fame in Wales as a young actor on television. The history lesson engulfing us got the audience's focus; have your wits about you and keep on your feet (literally). The scene with school children didn't really add much to the plot either. One audience member having a Sideshow Bob moment, as a pre-set rake managed to fall on him, to his disbelief.

The fact we were in a place of opera influence had very little relevance, though this opera buff did coo at a few posters and props that were scattered around the place. A huge cloth, clearly from Wagner's Parsifal was used for the screen for the film work. The long hallways being made up of half props, half horrid yellow plastic boxes with no real purposes than just to be there added more to the serious mood.

Through the odd ideas, still lies a performance you simply cannot miss.

Fascinating, stimulating & strangely moving.

Rating: 4 stars

{150} continues till Saturday 11th July 2015

Galesa will be screened on S4C on 29th July 2015 at 9:30pm

Watch Szymanowski's King Roger for free online via the Royal Opera House's website (available for six months after the live stream broadcast)

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Photo Credit: screenshot from {150} trailer

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