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stage


SPEECHLESS


Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff Fri 23 + Sat 24 July


The tale of June and Jennifer Gibbons, a pair of troubled teenage twins who develop their own secret language and refuse to communicate with the rest of the world, has the potential to leave audiences quite simply Speechless. This is a fitting title for the joint venture of Shared Experience and Sherman Cymru, as they take on their production of Marjorie Wallace’s best-seller Silent Twins. It is a tale of language and literature fused with the twins’ feelings of bitter isolation, locked in the borders of a sleepy Welsh town. Trapped in their own private world of complex games, the girls’ intense detachment makes them obvious prey for bullies, providing a sense of unjust victimhood which foreshadows their move to crime. Jennifer and June’s conjoined lifestyles are a clear problem, yet when they are sent to different boarding schools, their separation is deemed even more detrimental to their strangely duplicate mental states. Already it is too late; the boundaries of their secret language have already formed the strong bond between two sisters that will later lead them down a disturbing dual path of notorious novels and petty crimes to the wards of psychiatric hospital, Broadmoor. Unsurprisingly, the events have been picked up frequently in popular culture, with Welsh bandManic Street Preachers penning their sinister hit Tsunami after hearing of the twins, and director Jon Amiel using the disturbing real life events, alongside Wallace’s book, as inspiration for the 1986 filmSilent Twins. The Sun headline that introduced to the twins to the world, ‘Genius Twins Don’t Speak’, finally gave them the global infamy they had plotted since their childhood pact of silence. Now, as Sherman Cymru take on this unique story of extreme togetherness, expect to be haunted. Speechless is directed and co-written by the company’s joint Artistic Director Polly Teale, who has garnered critical acclaim for her West End play After Mr Rochester, and is co-written by Linda Brogan. It is a powerful new work that puts the unspoken words of the silent twin sisters firmly under the spotlight, allowing a unique Welsh voice to finally be heard by Welsh audiences and beyond, to the rest of the Gibbons’ abandoned world. Tickets: £8-£12. Info: 029 2030 4400 / www.chapter.org KIRSTY ALLEN


SWEENEY TODD Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl Wed 21-Fri 23 July


This year has seen a massive revival of Victorian literature. A vast number of films and productions have followed this influx of all things gothic and macabre into popular culture. It is only fitting, then, that the intense and darkly funny Sweeney Todd should appear this month at the Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl. In this production, Bridgend Youth The- atre take on this world-famous story. This is a toe-curling, spine-tingling show that really knows, even through the medium of the musical, how to scare its audience. The impressive score gives the whole mu- sical a feeling of the epic with the music taking certain influences from dark pieces such as the Catholic Mass For The Dead. The play’s eponymous lead is a vengeance- driven character completely without mercy, and it can be felt from the start that such a story cannot end well. Todd is coupled, of course, with his equally dynamic partner in crime Mrs Lovett. Having previously performed Macbeth, it can be readily assumed that these promis- ing actors will take on one of the darkest musicals with impressive determination. This production promises to couple moments of fierce drama with a wickedly funny tone as the demon barber of Fleet Street acts out his terrible crimes. Prepare to be entertained, but you might also like to steel yourself for a few gasps and gri- maces along the way. Tickets: £7.50. Info: 01656 815995 / www.grandpavilion. co.uk (DLB)


BUZZ 40


THE HARDER THEY COME New Theatre, Cardiff Tue 6-Sat 10 July With his back to a delighted audience, a figure will strut along the landscape. His hands will probably be casually positioned within his pockets and he will no doubt be humming or whistling to the catchy tune, You Can Get It If You Really Want. But don’t be deceived. This is not Ivan Martin, the optimistic lead character of this lively musical set to storm Cardiff. Oh no. This gleeful chap will be just one of the lucky people to fall under the power of this gripping tale and its utterly infectious soundtrack this month at the New Theatre and, like many who’ve seen the show before him, is leaving the venue with an undeniable spring in his step. Yet beyond the buoyant rhythms and songs, within this hit musical there is an awareness that life isn’t always easy-going and luck isn’t always on our side. Inspired to go to great and dangerous lengths to protect his passion for music, Ivan cooks up the 70s energy of this story for a contemporary audience, making the bitter- ness and the sweetness of the songs still digestible to a modern palate. The reggae theme and upbeat soundtrack bring a certain vibrancy, which allow this tale to rise as a glorious feel-good celebra- tion of one man’s hope. This is a colourful lesson in the importance of determination and ambition. Don’t let anything stop you from getting a ticket. Tickets: £8-£26. Info: 029 2087 8889 / www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk (AF)


CHAPTER EXCURSION: FOR MOUNTAIN, SAND & SEA Leaving from Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff Sat 3 July Like a raw promotional video filmed by travel agents, National Theatre Wales tease us with footage introducing their latest piece. An elderly woman strolls past the Arousal Café, the camera spins to ironically mimic the deserted waltzers and our perception pans over an empty beach. In For Mountain, Sand & Sea, we are given a heartfelt reminder of tourism past, newly evoked. Inspired by the jolly rambles of Victorian gentlemen such as Ruskin and Darwin, this production will take us on a meander around the quirky sites, sounds and people Barmouth has to offer us. History plays an integral part in the seaside town where Darwin wrote his epoch-defining Origin Of Species amongst streets of chapels. Now, inspirational natural scenes have become deserted beaches and the sacred buildings have been transformed into shrines to the pound with bargains filling the physical and spiritual holes that religion left. As Chapter promise us a proper Victorian day out, expect to be taken from the origin of the species to the evolution of a spectacular town. This is an art installa- tion that pulls us in, asking us to bring our waterproofs and sensible shoes. Want to bare a little more flesh than the Victorian excursionists whose steps you retrace? Just make sure you pop some sunscreen in your hamper too. Tickets: £35. Info: 029 2030 4400 / www.chapter.org (AF)


GODSPELL


Swansea Grand Theatre Sat 10 July You could be forgiven for being sceptical about Godspell. A musical with a religious theme where most of the cast appear in clown costumes is not what is usually looked for in an evening’s entertainment. However, this innovative classic will soon quash any such doubts about its individual take on Christianity. At its opening in 1971, Godspell, based on the Gospel of Matthew, offered an entirely new portrayal of the parables of the last days of Jesus’ life and has continued to impress audiences with its celebratory retelling of one of the most iconic stories of all time. At first glance Godspell may look fairly ridiculous, but through song and dance it captures an ancient story and remoulds it for a modern audience, telling it in a way that is a far cry from the traditional teachings of the gospel. Big on hymn-like musical numbers and extravagant costumes, watching the high energy, multicoloured musical that is Godspell certainly beats sitting on a hard pew in a cold church on a Sunday morning.


Class Act Theatre Productions already has an impressive track record of high power musicals having previously performed productions of Oliver! and Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. With its 70s spin on the life of Christ, Godspell offers a totally unique theatre experience. Tickets: £10.50. Info: www. swansea.gov.uk (EP)


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