Tag Archives: Cler Stephens

Mog by Aled Roberts

Performances

Chapter, Cardiff, Tues 6 Nov 2012, 8pm, £4 on the door

The Riverfront, Newport, Thurs 8 Nov 2012, 7.45pm, £4

Cast

Mog – Tom Mumford

Da – Anthony Leader

Ma – Clêr Stephens

Alyn – Alex Harries

Director

James Ashton

Review

This is a powerful piece of writing from Aled Roberts that handles humour, pathos and deeply upsetting situations within a troubled family. It is similarly brought to performance by four excellent actors in a production that is sympathetically created by James Ashton making a quite exceptional directing debut.

If you are familiar with Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers there is nothing particularly new in the idea of brothers separated at birth, following different lives and the consequences of what happens when they come back together.This is actually a far more moving and poignant story of two half-brothers, one brought up by his maternal mother and the other by his mother’s sister. One goes to college  and works in a bank, the other just lazes around the house. However, at the end of the play “successful” son Mog deeply regrets having been handed over to his aunty to be raised while the son that stays at home are bitter about his successful half-brother.

Along the way we have the two other key players, Da and Ma, splendidly acted by Anthony Leader and Clêr Stephens. The drama unfolds in their home with Mog coming to tell his “aunty” that he is going to college in London. It isn’t terribly hard to work out that she is actually his mum. The damaged relationship between Da and Ma is clearly because Ma has never come to terms with handing over her illegitimate child to her sister to bring up. It is also understandable that Alyn is as he is because he can see his mother’s idolisation of Mog.
The play is skilfully directed as we have no set, just a few props, and the sounds of an offstage kitchen. While the play lasts just an hour it includes the passage of time including the death of Ma and then the death of Da, leaving the two half-brothers (who now know the truth) to unsuccessfully deal with the fallout.

Tom Mumford and Alex Harries are two extremely talented young actors who take these two very different roles, make them their own with finely crafted characterisations. Clêr Stephens is a delight as MA while I have not been so impressed by any performance for a long time as Anthony Leader’s consummate performance as Da.

Mike Smith

 

Night Must Fall by Emlyn Williams

Performances

Chapter, Cardiff Tues 15 February 2011, 8pm – £4 on the door

The Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea Wed 16 February 2011, 7:30pm – £4

Cast

Lord Chief Justice – Hugh Thomas

Mrs Bramson – Judith Haley

Olivia Grayne – Claire Cage

Hubert Laurie – Robert Harper

Mrs Terence – Clêr Stephens

Dora Parkoe – Lizzie Rogan

Inspector Belzie – Johnny Tudor

Danny – Jay Worley

Director

Hugh Thomas

Review

THE success of Michael Kelligan’s script-held readings was encapsulated in one crucial scene from the opening play in his latest On the Edge series. There are no props beyond a wheelchair and a few desks and chairs, yet we all strained our necks to look at the luggage that the cast were opening – even though we consciously knew they were completely improvising, there was no luggage there. Such is the acting talent, the richness of characterisation and the slick delivery of mounting tension that you quite forget you are not watching a costumed, staged drama.

It is also the strength of Emlyn Williams’ writing that you are instantly absorbed into the lives of these characters and gasp to know what will unfold. This thriller is a psychoanalyst and also film maker’s dream (providing Robert Montgomery with an Oscar nomination and a dodgy accent). As the play opens with a judge (played by Hugh Thomas) summing up the murder trial it is no whodunit element to this tale. Rather it is why. Set in a remote cottage in the rich and controlling old Mrs Bramson (Judith Haley) assisted by her penniless, single niece Olivia Grayne (Clare Cage). Hubert Laurie (Robert Harper) is Olivia’s suitor and the wonderfully acted domestics; down to earth housekeeper Mrs. Terrence (Clêr Stephens), and the ditzy pregnant maid Dora Parkoe (Lizzie Rogan) even the ubiquitous police inspector Belsize (Johnny Tudor). Then we have dashing Dan, played by Jay Worley.

Haley plays Mrs Bramson as more nastily lonely than cruelly tyrannical so it makes sense that the fabulous housekeeper is more than her equal as a sparring partner yet is bitter enough to make her niece’s life a misery. Robert Harper oozes experience and effortless character playing.  Jay Worley’s Dan is chirpy, happy chappy but with always a little menace in there. His psychosis slowly unravels as the play develops as he smarms his way into Mrs Bramson’s affections, manipulates Olivia but ultimately self-destructs when his belief that he is incapable of being found out proves false. He does the watching, as he tells us. He gives a performance well beyond his years even if his delivery is at times rushed and he has the looks for the role. Yet, he is already able to use them to look creepy as well as alluring.

Mike Smith

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Photographs by  Claire Cousin

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)