Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Jumpy (Theatr Clwyd, Mold)

Philip Wright and Sara Stewart as Mark and Hilary

First staged at the Royal Court in London in 2011, Jumpy is a briskly modern comedy-drama which manages to address issues head-on without being preachy or patronising. April De Angelis's script is unapologetically funny - truly, laugh-out-loud hilarious - but through it all there's a vein of serious intent, which is to explore what it's like to be a middle-aged mother in the 21st century.

Hilary is 50 years old, married to the laconic Mark, has a stroppy 15-year-old daughter called Tilly, and is in a job teetering on redundancy. She has a best friend called Frances who has quite a different outlook on life to her, but nevertheless they complement one another. Jumpy is told from Hillary's point of view, so while there are other characters with issues and problems, and opinions and disasters, it's all seen through Hilary's lens. This means Sara Stewart is on stage for almost every second of the play.

Monday, March 14, 2016

There is a Place (Pontio, Bangor)

It seems odd that a show created to celebrate the opening of Bangor's Pontio arts complex should premiere more than four months after it actually opened. But then, Pontio isn't known for its punctuality - the £49m venue finally threw open its doors to the public in October 2015, 12 months later than first planned.

But better late than never, and the same goes for There is a Place, the brainchild of NoFit State Circus's artistic director Firenza Guidi, who has put together a truly mesmerising and magical show which brings together the Bangor community by including local schoolchildren and young performers on the bill.

The art of circus is a growing sector in the arts community, and it is NoFit State's intention to develop a regional base for circus skills at Pontio. Indeed, much of Pontio's inaugural programme has been circus-based, such as Ockham's Razor's Tipping Point and Citrus Arts' forthcoming A Savage Hart.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Rambert Spring 2016 (Theatr Clwyd, Mold)

Frames. Pic: Tristram Kenton

It's a question choreographers must be asked all too often: does an audience need to be aware of the inspiration for a piece of work in order for them to understand it, or get the most out of it? Can an observer come in to a dance piece completely cold and pick up what it's about just from watching it?

Kim Brandstrup, choreographer of Transfigured Night, believes firmly that "there is nothing you need to know in advance" of seeing this piece. He says that the audience is "watching people, human beings who will take you on a journey".

I disagree. If you reduce what dance is to merely human beings moving about, albeit in a beautiful way, then what you're essentially left with is legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham's pioneering yet challenging philosophy of discarding narrative and intent, and simply dancing for dancing's sake. Cunningham may have meant it was the performer who dances without intent, but without understanding of a choreographer's intent, surely the audience is being placed in that same unenlightened position.