Tag Archives: Alan Osborne

A Pair of Cardiff Shorts by Alan Osborne

Performances

Chapter, Cardiff Tues 9 June 2009 8pm – £3 on the door
The Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea Wed 10 June 2009 , 7:30pm – £3
The Riverfront, Newport Thur 11 June 2009, 7:45pm – £4

Cast

Jacky Chambers – Boyd Clack 

Carys – Clêr Stephens

Attlee – Nathan Sussex

Hiplet – Mali Tudno James

Bozza Lewis – Dean Rehman


Director

Russell Gomer

 

Review

The latest in the On The Edge season at Chapter featured a double bill of new plays – “A Pair of Cardiff Shorts” – by local legend Alan Osborne, one of the progenitors of the profane, poetic, surrealistic South Wales style. The first, “The Best Defensive Boxer In The Bay! Nay, The World” is about a pugilist whose aim is to become the world champion loser; the second, a less broadly humorous, more abstract piece, “Until, Box and Sometimes Sally”, has as its hero a blind man whose friends tell him stories to stir (or maybe constrain) his visual imagination. Despite the fact that these were script-in-hand readings, director Russell Gomer kept things moving admirably, and the cast (Nathan Sussex as the related central protagonists of both pieces, as well as Boyd Clack, Dean Rehman, Cler Stephens and Mali Tudno Jones) ably conveyed the pathos and humour in both pieces. More stimulation in a little under an hour than an entire season of Big Brother could provide.

Othniel Smith (blakeson.blogspot.co.uk)

 


 

In Sunshine and In Shadow by Alan Osborne

Performance

Chapter, Cardiff, Wed 14 Feb 2007, 8pm, £3 on the door

Cast

Vee- Christine Pritchard

Day – Tony Leader

Babes – Lisa Zahra

Ga-Ga – Alex Harries

Cissie – Terry Victor

Stack – Brian Hibbard

Bernie – Aled Herbert

Dai Death – Michael Kelligan

Director

Michael Kelligan

Review

In Sunshine and In Shadow is the second play from the brilliant welsh playwright Alan Osborne’s Merthyr Trilogy. Part of a series called On The Edge, it presents script-held performances of plays by Wales’ best dramatists as featured in Hazel Walford Davies’ 2006 book, Now You’re Talking.In Sunshine and In Shadow portrays a family torn apart by poverty, addiction and secrets from the past. Set in Merthyr Tydfil, “the biggest council estate in Europe,” it explores how a cruel and ignorant society represses its natural artists, marking them out as different and wrong.

Gerri Smith shines in the lead role of the Mother, Vee, a wilting songstress wrought to death by her failed dreams, personal tragedy and raging drug addiction. Her exchanges with her severely disabled but gifted son Ga Ga, played by Alex Harries, vividly communicate how their creativity alienates them from their neighbours on the estate.

Despite being more than 20 years old, the play has lost none of its power, seeming more relevant as a piece of social commentary in a culture of Hoodies and ASBOs and where the wealth divide seems as strong as ever. Osborne’s gift for emphasising the poetry of the south Welsh vernacular breeds dialogue that is believable and haunting, animated to great effect by a sterling cast.

Packed into a small hot room it feels like a genuine piece of underground Welsh drama has been resurrected for one night only, with all the power and trepidation that a single performance can bring. A low-tech renaissance indeed and simply stunning.

Reviewed by: Nat Davies, Big Issue

Slaughter on Grand Avenue by Alan Osborne

Performance

Chapter, Cardiff, Fri 8 July 2005 £3 on the door

Cast

Antonia – Katy Owen

Hogarth – Jason Camilleri

Alicia – Clare Isaac

Puffin- Ffion Williams

Isaf- Lloyd Everitt

with Henry Johnson on drums.

Director

Michael Kelligan

Lighting

Dan Young

Review

Calling a theatre festival Passion is, I guess, provocative enough: to launch it with a group of scantily-clad dancing devils and an off-the-wall play about poetry, pornography and patrimony is even more interesting.So Passion, Cardiff’s first-ever city of drama festival, was launched at the New Theatre by the Lord Mayor, complete with chain and formal speech, but just as she stood up to the mike she found herself assailed by the suggestive close-up shimmying of a man wearing blue paint and little else, with a trident and his gang of squirming Trinidadian Blue Devils, just flown in to make their presence felt throughout the Passion festival and for the Mas Carnival in the Bay on July 30.With hips shaking and red tongues shooting in and out, the troupe were not really the sort of event normally encountered in the New Theatre bar or by civic leaders. You could almost see the think bubble above Cllr Freda Salway’s head as she waited for the gyrating and drumming to abate so she could open this exciting 25 days of drama in the city: HELP ! it said silently.

And if you thought that Chapter’s theatre was going to offer a refuge from the crazy and the carnivalesque – well, when does it ever ?

Alan Osborne, that remarkable polymath, can however express just what the Lord Mayor said when she did get to make her speech: the culture of Cardiff is unique and it is one created by the different communities who have settled there.

Osborne has always been interested more in the fringes of that culture – the dispossessed, the inarticulate, the odd and the plain loopy. Bull, Rock and Nut, Redemption Song and In Sunshine and In Shadow remain a trilogy of exception force and unconventional lyricism.

Those three plays are now known as the Merthyr Trilogy but his new play, Slaughter on Grand Avenue, harks back to the subject matter of one of his earlier plays, working-class Cardiff. Johnny Darkie, through, was based on dockland while his new work, as yet unfinished, is set in Ely and the road that runs through it.

Here we find Alicia J. Rummell, porn queen and entrepreneur, rap poet Hogarth and his girl, Antonia, who cons disability allowance by acting mental, “doing poetic illness”, and an odd couple in fancy dress, Puffin and Isaf, who turn out to be Hogarth’s half-siblings whom he and his father had abandoned in Swansea.

Just what happens, or why, is not terribly clear, especially in this script-in-hand production from Michael Kelligan as part of his On The Edge season of rehearsed readings, with its mainly young cast not seemingly sure of how to deliver Osborne’s often opaque if lyrical speeches.

Osborne’s stylised writing, I suspect, demands a very special kind of actor (I recall Dorien Thomas as the perfect performer to voice Osborne’s words) and while Katy Owen is fine, quirky and highly talented oddly I didn’t find her convincing as an Ely freak; and while Ffion Jenkins impressed considerably she did make her scenes seem, perhaps not unsurprisingly, to be more from Ed Thomas country than the even crazier world of Alan Osborne.

Clare Isaac grounded the play to an extent, Jason Cazmilleri was a convincing rap poet (after all, he is one) and Lloyd Everitt showed promise – but none, it seems to me, created that distinctive real-but-unreal place inhabited by Osborne’s larger-than-life characters.

Even so, I enjoyed the show enormously, if only because Alan Osborne has got just what this festival is all about: passion.

 David Adams