Review: Dead Born Grow @ WMC
National Youth Theatre of Wales & Frantic Assembly - dead born grow
Wales Millennium Centre
Thursday 3rd April 2014
“We only live once yet we put up these fronts and wear these masks to hide how we really feel so that others won’t know when we are weak or vulnerable. Right? Why do we frown upon each other for expressing ourselves? To appear more stable - happier? Sane? Or are we just protecting ourselves from what really lives underneath?” - Eddie Kay, Frantic Assembly
The concept of Illusion versus Reality is an interesting one, and one which has been approached in many different ways, but I’ve never seen it handled quite like this.
National Youth Theatre of Wales’ dead born grow, making a return to the stage after the success of its first run, is an original, contemporary and refreshing display of physical theatre as it is meant to be; raw and evocative.
Devised from the minds of the young people of the company and born from the collaborated efforts of the National Youth Theatre of Wales and the widely reputed Frantic Assembly, what has been created is edgy and surreal yet has its foundation in the real life experiences of the cast.
Having seen dead born grow last year at the Taliesin in Swansea, it was exciting to see this remounted version in my home city of Cardiff (at the Dance House in the Welsh Millennium Centre no less).
It is to be noted, that a significant period of time has passed since the group last performed the piece, and it was the result of three days hard work that saw them back into the stride of things, and in my humble opinion, the most recent performance was the best yet.
There was clever use of the space in the form of large white boards attached to trolleys (that move seamlessly around the space to form the backdrop) and a beautiful set comprising of dozens of items of clothing. We experienced projections throughout the show on cleverly placed items and even people dispersed amongst scenes of intense and visceral movement and dance.
The show felt nicely balanced in itself, without lingering too long on the thought-provoking slower scenes or spending too long on the high-octane sequences (which were a thrill even the second time).
Now, I am happy to confess that my knowledge of dance and physical theatre is limited at best, however, it didn’t take much thought to recognise this as good work. There were moments within the piece with real emotional weight and whilst the movement and action is in itself removed from reality, each scene feels like an honest representation of what young people in Wales think and feel.
With issues such as the struggle of self-expression, hyper-critical judgement of our own bodies and the question of whether our memories define who we are, what I saw was mature theatre from the eyes of young, troubled (as we all are) but more importantly normal people.
Put simply, what the National Youth Theatre of Wales and Frantic Assembly are doing is fresh and exciting and their involvement with the young people of Wales can only have a positive impact on a thriving and growing Welsh art scene.
Honestly, I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
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