Review: Constellation Street @ The Other Room
*Monumental spoilers follow*
Constellation Street continues an immaculate Insomnia Season at The Other Room...though I fear it has gone down a peg, just slightly.
Written by actor Matthew Bulgo, Constellation Street is a theatrical portmanteau of Cardiff and the characters that frequent here. Although it captures a rainy and rather moody atmosphere, this could really be any city, if not for the very specific place names we have. The use of the petit space is highly impressive: a hotel room, a taxi and a bar all staggeringly fit into the main space and we were then escorted outside for the final tableau.
Being handed a hotel card with "Penarth Road" listed upon it, half of the audience joined us in the stiflingly initiate hotel room to greet Stephen. He tells us he doesn't ever do this and we are alert to the situation of some sort of sexy time happening between him and an invisible character. We quickly realise he's not here for that (he gazes at each audience member during his lines) and wants to help this girl out by letting her stay and so he could just have someone to talk to. He relives a story that is best forgotten and is pivotal to the audience. He asks the girl can he tuck her in, without sounding creepy, and this sort of warped tragedy is unfurling.
Half of us were then filled into Frank's taxi. The effect of a vehicle is brilliantly depicted with a rear view mirror (that we can also see ourselves in), an impressionist windshield with the sound of rain and a meter which never seems to increase in price. He looks at us entirely through said mirror, only turning abruptly once to myself in a hair raising moment of tension for me. He speaks of his son and how he is the definition of masculine, only for it to appear he is actually gay. Frank's views on gay men should never be repeated, but rather ignored and disbelieved.
As he ended his spiel, a front of house member told us to leave and wait at the entrance. In a bout of confusion, Nicola Reynolds comes out and says some of her monologue (audiences would only hear three of four monologues each night). I can't really grasp what the point of these moments were, whether they were internal or not. Why an audience would only hear part of what was written is a quandary (and for Bulgo to state that further productions must use all four parts). Cleverly, copies of the script were on sale for those keen to hear that little bit extra of the show.
Throughout the evening several metaphorical pennies are dropped, as we soon realise each character is in some way related. The dog attack, encounters at a local bar, and a real sense of loss and longing all predominate the show. The final part just outside in the cold was less inspired. Alex, a girl with drinks down her, speaking of Stephen and how kind he was to her in the hotel room. Her words are less inspired and the huge plot twist wouldn't feel out of place in Tales of the Unexpected.
This was mostly good ideas but the uncertainly towards the end was vexing. To miss Ruth's speech was to miss a hurtling tale of affairs, drinking and suicide. I might just consider seeing it again to hear Ruth's moment and to see what I missed the last time.
Critics praise goes to the four actors: Nicola Reynolds, Roger Evans, Gwenllian Higginson and Neal McWilliams. Each filled with nuances and revelatory insights and banter.
See for them and the intimate settings.
Rating: 3 stars.
Constellation Street continues at The Other Room till 30th April 2016. For more information visit www.otherroomtheatre.com.
A Sunny Disposition by Nicola Reynolds opens at The Other Room on the 9th May 2016 and closes the Insomnia Season.
More reviews from The Other Room:
Weeping Tudor Productions present Medusa's Trap by Erik Satie, and a Birthday Concert for the 150th year of his birth, on Tuesday 17th May at Sunflower & I, Cardiff Bay. Tickets available on EventBrite.
Image credit: otherroomtheatre.com