Monday, April 27, 2015

Wales Comic Con (Glyndŵr University, Wrexham)

It was a surreal Sunday. As the sun beat down on the campus at Wrexham's Glyndŵr University, I found myself surrounded by all manner of out-of-this-world creatures and characters. There were hordes of jawas, stormtroopers and Boba Fetts from Star Wars, superheroes like Spider-Man, Batman and Arrow, as well as the odd Middle-Earth wizard. There were even characters from Frozen walking around.

And that's the fun of an event like Wales Comic Con: fans of cult and genre TV, film and comic books are so passionate about their subject that they immerse themselves wholeheartedly in it. People dress up (or down, as in one eye-popping case where a young lady was trying to recreate Princess Leia's slave costume from Return of the Jedi) and emulate their fictional heroes with such obvious love and attention. The time and effort that must have gone into creating some of the cosplay outfits is phenomenal. There was even a Beast from X-Men, complete with blue hairy mane and white lab coat (surely a contender to win the cosplay masquerade trophy!).

Marc Almond (Bridgewater Hall, Manchester)

It might be 34 years since Soft Cell's definitive cover of Tainted Love hit number one on the UK singles chart, but listening to Marc Almond in 2015 is like stepping into a time machine and travelling back to the heady days of the Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. His voice is timeless, ageless, deathless.

Almond entertained a packed Bridgewater Hall like a man half his age, despite his own protestations that he isn't getting any younger (amazingly, Marc is 57!). Well, nobody is, Marc, but at least when you take to the stage you try not to let the years slow you down. He shimmied and slid across the stage, arms flailing and posturing as the band slammed out a stream of dance tracks from across the whole of Marc's varied career.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Light of Heart (Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold)

In a shabby London boarding house at the heart of London's theatre scene lives a collection of men and women who seem on the cusp of failure and despair. There's little money about, and even less ambition, but as The Light of Heart develops we see hope and fortune pave a road forward and upward... for some, at least.

The Light of Heart, first staged in 1940, has a cracking good story, sculpted with an intimate understanding of live theatre by the great Welsh playwright and thespian Emlyn Williams. It is particularly gratifying to be able to see the play performed in Clwyd Theatr Cymru's intimate Emlyn Williams Theatre, where Simon Kenny has constructed a beautifully ramshackle bedsitter set, complete with peeling wallpaper, torn lino and filthy window panes. Although set in the 1930s, this is a world more familiar through the kitchen sink dramas of the 1950s and 60s, such as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning or A Taste of Honey.