Saturday, 18 March 2017

Seanmhair | The Other Room

I was really thrilled to be invited to the premiere of the new play Seanmhair (Gaelic for 'grandmother', pronouced 'shen-a-var') written by Hywel John, especially as it also involved me discovering a new venue here in Cardiff! It astonishes me that I've lived here for over 18 months and I'm still discovering new performance spaces but it also made the whole experience particularly exciting and intriguing for me. The play is performed by three women, who represent three stages of Jenny's life, telling the story of Jenny and Tommy's dark and ill-fated romance.

Throughout the play Sian Howard, Hannah McPake and Molly Vevers take on a variety of characters in order to tell the story so the level of stylised character acting was very impressive and I didn't have any trouble differentiating between the roles. All three actors were on stage for almost the duration of the 90 minute performance and didn't slip out of character at all. The structure was very interesting, weaving through Jenny's timeline in an almost erratic fashion and sometimes two different tales were being told at once by different characters but I never felt as if I was getting lost in the story, even towards the dramatic conclusion. There were moments of dry wit interspersed with very raw emotion and aching passion and I found the storytelling so compelling that the 90 minutes flew by.

The set was incredibly simple that, combined with the interesting lighting changes and subtle sound design, it purely enhanced the drama and placed the focus almost entirely on the actors. The venue was absolutely ideal for the performance too - The Other Room is a very small 47 seat theatre - as it is a very intimate piece. I often locked eyes with the performers and it felt like they were sharing their darkest secrets with me alone which really adding to the gripping nature of the piece.

I left the theatre feeling slightly drained emotionally but in the best way: I really enjoyed how different this production was. The play is running here in Cardiff until the 1st April before transferring to the Edinburgh Festival this summer so if you have a spare evening here in Cardiff I'd definitely recommend checking it out. It must be an exhausting piece for the actors to perform so I really think we should be supporting their hard work, and hey, tickets are only £12! For more details check out The Other Room's website.

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