Chapter, Cardiff Tues 17 Feb 2009, 8pm – £3 on the door
The Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea Wed 18 Feb 2009, 7:30pm – £3
The Riverfront, Newport Thur 19 Feb 2009, 7:45pm – £4
Lily – Carli De’La Hughes
Fin – Danny Grehan
Trecci – Dewi Savage
Detective – Tony Leader
Michael Kelligan’s new “On The Edge” season kicked of at Cardiff’sChapter Arts Centre with a world premiere – a script-in-hand reading of “Solitude”, a new play from Dic Edwards, one of Wales most erudite and provocative dramatists. Inspired by the life and work of Alexander Trocchi, it’s a self-consciously writerly tale of sex, drugs and death amongst low-life poets, full of epigrams, allusions and bizarre motifs. Very clever, and well acted – with Carli De’La Hughes, Danny Grehan and Dewi Savage as the protagonists, and Tony Leader as the police officer who is eventually called in to inject a dose of reality – but since one of the central themes is shattered innocence, we are forced to wallow, somewhat, in the self-serving unpleasantness of the deluded amoral artist, which leaves a bit of a bad taste, which is probably the intention.
DIC EDWARDS is possibly the most fascinating playwright in Wales.He’s a Welshman who forcibly resists any interest in national identity, sees himself as rejected by the Welsh theatrical profession (with notable exceptions) and assumes a position as an outsider or, in his phrase, The Evicted. And he manages to not only infuriate and exasperate but also delight and intrigue those prepared to listen – these days more as a poet than a playwright.
Not surprisingly his latest play, given its premiere as a rehearsed reading in Michael Kelligan’s On The Edge new season, is a rambling and often incoherent meditation on the poet presented as a kind of bio-drama. Despite the overwhelming force of the words from three characters who all consider themselves poets, there is a plot of sorts here: a 15-year-old girl is introduced by a gay man to a ranting drug addicted and infamously eccentric literary figure clearly based on Alexander Trocchi – his name here is Alex Trecci – who deflowers her and then marries her. Trocchi/Trecci has, he thinks, murdered the one-legged women living on the next barge to him and carries round with him her prosthetic leg.
You may start to get the tone: lots of wordplay knocking up against surreal black humour. And lots of cleverness that relies to a great extent on knowing that 1950s-60s scene that was the nearest Britain got to America’s Beat Generation. Solitude is a complex interweaving of the personal and the poetic, an unresolved story of alienation and despair that can seemingly end only when the poet finds the sought-after solitude in suicide.
It is impossible on a rehearsed reading to do justice to Edwards’ fragmented narrative, the purple passages that juxtapose poetry and pastiche, the very funny scenes and the provocative ones, and Kelligan’s somewhat bewildered presentation does little to convince us that this is anything but a misfired ambition that needs sensitive editing and experienced interpretation. Dewi Savage offers a parody of Trocchi; Danny Grehan does a lot with a little as the gay drug dealer and Carli De’La Hughes has an impossible task as the young innocent but has some fine moments.
David Adams (Western Mail)