Review: SpringBoard and Dirty Protest
Sherman Theatre, Cardiff
IN the past, new Welsh stage writing has not always received the support it deserves, with many “traditional” theatre companies and venues preferring to regurgitate the classics.
But with so many talented emerging writers out there and a real need to get younger audiences interested in theatre, there has been a real shift in attitude.
The Sherman Theatre in Cardiff is a staunch supporter of new work and it has just completed a successful run of the new initiative SpringBoard.
The festival featured pieces from emerging writers, new work from established names like Gary Owen and Alan Osborne and collaborations with musicians.
Among the highlights were the annual Sherman ScriptSlam final, where five winning writers from this year’s monthly ScriptSlam competitions competed. The winner was Alun Saunders with his piece, To Be Frank.
There was also a special visit from cult new writing event, Dirty Protest, the theatre group which was launched last summer in a bid to introduce new work to the MySpace generation, who would not usually visit a theatre.
The first few sessions, held in a yurt at Cardiff cafe bar Milgi, were read-throughs of new dramas.
But for SpringBoard, three new short pieces were actually performed in Venue 2, which is a bit like a mini amphitheatre and allows the audience to feel a real part of the proceedings.
The trilogy started with In The River by first-time playwright Samuel Bees, which was a dream-like story of young love and tragedy.
Gareth Milton and Caryl Morgan played the young couple dreaming of escape from their troubled lives. Bees’ piece was like a modern-day fairytale which moved from dark to light.
Morgan was reminiscent of a young Eve Myles, while Milton handled the monologues effectively.
Next came The Whole Truth by Tim Price, one of the founder members of Dirty Protest and the writer of S4C’s Y Pris.
Set in a woodland where two friends searched for a lost groundsheet, one of them, Aled Pugh, contemplated the traumas he faced, while the other, wonderfully played by a shell-suited Lee Mengo, had a far more simplified approach to things. Ending with a cliffhanger, people are now being invited to pen the next act of this play which will then be staged at a future Dirty Protest event.
The night ended with my favourite of the three, Carnival by Colette Kane. Featuring Steve Meo, Dan Curtis and Eiry Hughes, it was a kind of Shameless meets Romeo and Juliet.
Dirty Protest, and indeed most of the events at SpringBoard, provided plenty of thought-provoking moments and proved how innovative, entertaining and relevant today’s theatre can be.