Category Archives: Back To The Boys 2011

Free Folk by Gary Owen


Theatre Halliwell, Trinity College, Carmarthen, Mon 12 Dec 2011, 7.30pm, £7/£5

Chapter, Cardiff, Tues 13 Dec 2011, 8pm, £4 on the door

The Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea, Wed 14 Dec 2011, 7.30pm, £4

The Riverfront, Newport, Thurs 15 Dec 2011, 7.45pm, £4


Gary Knowles

Simon Mullins

Stephanie Garrett

Nikki Warwick

Liz Edney


Elise Davison


Another Welsh premiere of a play by Welsh playwright Gary Owen – this time brought to us as an “On The Edge” rehearsed reading from theWelsh Fargo Stage Company at Chapter, Cardiff. This was “Free Folk”, originally commissioned and toured by the Forest Forge Theatre Company in 2010 – a tightly plotted comedy drama whose action pivots around a rain-drenched incident of rustic petty crime which escalates into the kind of hostage situation in which most of the victims don’t realise they’re being held hostage. It’s instigated by wide-boy Shaun (Gary Knowles, clearly enjoying having the most complex characterisation to play with) who, with his unwilling accomplice, the justifiably nervy incomer Karen (Nikki Warwick), finds himself trapped in the home of the elderly, set-in-her-ways Pearl (Liz Edney); they’re later joined by petulant teen couple Tim and Hannah (recent graduates Simon Mullins and Stephanie Garratt). The direction by Elise Davison was cleverly fluent, the actors encouraged to abandon their scripts to enhance some of the more comic moments; although the decision to ask them to add their own sound effects (e.g. for the opening and closing of car doors) prompted audience giggles, which I found distracting. The author being fond of a monologue, the characters are all given room within the narrative to elucidate their back-stories, such that the moments of self-discovery on which they end are generally satisfying, in an essentially optimistic piece which reflects highly entertainingly on issues of home, belonging, and the concept of the rural idyll.

Othniel Smith (


Orange by Alan Harris


Chapter, Cardiff, Tues 22 Nov 2011, 8pm, £4 on the door

The Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea, Wed 23 Nov 2011, 7.30pm, £4

The Riverfront, Newport, Thurs 24 Nov 2011, 7.45pm, £4


Saleem – Sule Rimi

Chippie – Dean Rehman

Viv – Alan Humphreys


Michael Kelligan


THE context of Alan Harris’ gruelling play Orange is the War on Terror but the psychological issues it tackles can be transposed to any context, from sectarian Northern Ireland to Civil Rights horrors in the Deep South. While the tension and plot is based on taking an innocent hostage and threatening to kill him if a hostage taken by “the other side” is not released, this is just the vehicle for a story of the disposed, the aimless, the insecure, the innocents. While innocent may be a strange word to use for a hostage-taker, the character of Viv is a feckless, child in a grown up body, emotionally and at times physically dominated by his even more damaged elder brother Chippie.

The brothers take out their own despair and their own misguided belief in their position as champions of what is right in a corrupt system by kidnapping a black Muslim man and threatening to the authorities they will execute him if a female charity worker is not released by Islamic militants. Along the way out come pretty much every other bit of bigotry you can squeeze in – racism, sexism etc without a hint of self irony, rather, when talking about the barbaric terrorists the characters convince themselves “we are not like them”. The younger brother is left alone in the flat with their hostage and quickly they become mates as they kill time rather than one another. Of course the hostage is an ordinary bloke with his Tesco receipt in his wallet along with a photo of his son and shares interests with Viv in cars, cricket, card games. Chippie is the harder character who has “been inside” and is the violent thug with a delusional sense of mission.

Michael Kelligan directs this drama – part of his On The Edge season – with intensity that matches Harris’ shocking language and subject matter. With just three players, minimal costumes and props this is raw, immediate and deeply unpleasant in a highly satisfactory way.

Mike Smith (Western Mail)


Kick For Touch by Peter Gill


Chapter, Cardiff Tues 13 Sept 2011, 8pm – £4 on the door

The Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea Wed 14 Sept 2011, 7:30pm – £4

The Riverfront, Newport Thur 15 Sept 2011, 7:45pm – £4

Theatr Soar, Merthyr Tydfil Fri 16 Sept 2011, 7:30pm – £4


Joe – Nick Wayland Evans

Eileen – Polly Kilpatrick

Jim – Dick Bradnum


Bethan Morgan



“The latest in the On The Edge season of rehearsed readings in the theatre at Chapter saw a rare home town outing (and a near full house) for a play by Peter Gill, the Cardiff-born playwright and director who’s developed his reputation in London from the 1960s onwards. “Kick For Touch” (originally produced at the National Theatre in 1983) is a chamber piece about two brothers, Joe (Nick Wayland-Evans of Only Men Aloud) and Jim (Dick Bradnum), reunited in adulthood after a traumatic childhood separation, and Joe’s wife (Polly Kilpatrick) who finds herself torn between them. It’s a fascinatingly intense experience, with director Bethan Morgan’s use of lighting cleverly building a claustrophobic atmosphere, and the powerful performances quickly drawing us into the characters’ painful co-dependence. The precise nature of the incident in the distant past which might have a bearing on the brothers’ present predicament remains (intentionally) obscure, which is frustrating; but the piece as a whole provides a bracing emotional workout for actors and audiences alike.”




Photos by Claire Cousin

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