Tag Archives: Gary Knowles

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard

Performances

Chapter, Cardiff, Tues 14 Feb 2012, 8pm, £4 on the door

The Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea, Wed 15 Feb 2012, 7.30pm, £4

The Riverfront, Newport, Thurs 16 Feb 2012, 7.45pm, £4

Cast

Rosencrantz – Aled Herbert

Guildenstern – Jonathon Holcroft

The Player, Claudius – Gary Knowles

Hamlet – Tom Mumford

Polonius – Michael Kelligan

Ophelia, Gertrude – Bethan Morgan 

Director

Michael Kelligan

Music

Bethan Morgan

Review

For the first play in this year’s “On The Edge” season Michael Kelligan chose Tom Stoppard’s” Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”. This play opened at the Edinburgh Fringe festival in 1966 and is sporadically produced nowadays. Tom Stoppard was the king of the British theatre scene for the following twenty years. an impressive feat for someone born in Czechoslavakia. While Alan Ayckbourn dominated the “cosier” world of suburban life Stoppard was more intellectual. He is capable of the killer one-liner but you have to earn the laughs by following the often compex plots and thought-processes within.

This play follows the characters who appear intermittently throughout “Hamlet”, so an understanding of that play is extremely handy. We were very fortunate that having seen Michael Sheen’s stunning performance in the title role last month, the plot was fresh in our minds. Other members of the audience were less lucky. A lot of people I knew struggled to follow what was happening, especially the opening over-wordy sequence which sent the gentleman to my right into a noisy sleep. He failed to return for the second half and there were other noticeable gaps after the interval.

“On The Edge” was founded in 2004 to produce drama for audiences with few theatrical frills, concentrating mainly on the text with the actors using the script when necessary. It is a credit to the performers and the playwright that almost immediately you forget it is not a fully staged production. The acting is of a high order, especially from Jon Holcroft and Aled Herbert in the title roles. From an audience persepective, this was a long evening. Modern plays are generally (“Jerusalem” excluded) getting shorter and shorter. I feel this production could have benefitted from an earlier start and cutting of some of the wordier less plot driven scenes. A 10.30pm end on a Tuesday was too late.

Overall, though it was still good to see this over-looked play being given an airing in Cardiff. And for £4 “On The Edge” again provides astonishing value for money.

David Cox

Free Folk by Gary Owen

Performances

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


Cast

Gary Knowles

Simon Mullins

Stephanie Garrett

Nikki Warwick

Liz Edney

Director

Elise Davison

Review

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 (blakeson.blogspot.co.uk)