In 2017 National Theatre of Wales managed not to perform for 346 days of the year. So now this is the Big One – NTW is playing to an audience of 16 and 1 reviewer. (Aberaeron Memorial Hall) If the company had played Theatr Mwldan, Felinfach, Morlan it would have come with an inbuilt marketing programme. But the company is unable to play in our theatres because of dogma, ideology taking precedence over audiences of Wales.
As for the board it either has no oversight of the marketing inertia or it gives it up a thumbs-up. But then the last time it visited Ceredigion the company told us, via the Cambrian News, that “the locals have been very friendly and helpful.” No other arts company in Wales uses language like this about us, its audience. Again the board either has no oversight of its marketing communications or it endorses it.
This piece is far too long, straggly, episodic. It has no rhythm, it lacks dialectic and internal architecture. Were it in Edinburgh – and the company is not present in Edinburgh – it would get two stars for the energy of the performance. As the piece is far too long, the direction has to resort to fiddly touches to try and keep up a sense of impetus.
This piece lacks all the formal qualities for performance. It betokens a brittleness of dramaturgical skill within the company, but that is unsurprising. This is the only national theatre in the world that is unable to even mention the word “drama”. Part of that quality of dramaturgy lies in its selection of authors. The bona fide dramatists of Wales are little wanted. In fact one of Wales’ most accomplished theatre writers declined to be involved in this event, a remarkable state for a company of its purported importance.
The critical roll-call for 2018 has not been great. (See a selection of review links below)
The next event programmes a group of celebrity comedians for a single night only, slaps on an entry fee of £27.50, and calls it national theatre. Every other company in the world takes pleasure in commissioning comedy and taking it to audiences. Scotland and England work with their comedy writers. An equivalent company would have embraced Frank Vickery with joy. It is too late now. Pembrokeshire is home to a dramatist of deep craft. In September Tenby is host to an unfamiliar name. Check it and once again it is the Cornerhouse connection. Whether it is writers or directors so many roads – not all lead to England.
As for this event it will be far on the margin of what will come to be recognised as mattering in the theatre of Wales of 2018. It is inadequate, deeply inadequate.
For the full article Deeply Inadequate Event visit: http://www.theatre-wales.co.uk/reviews/reviews_details.asp?reviewID=4073
“Well, just because it was in a big empty space and forces us to stare at a burning tree for ten minutes still doesn’t make it much more than an audiobook, I’m afraid.”
“Unfortunately, what should be an exciting piece of site-specific theatre feels more like a museum exhibition.”
“For National Theatre Wales to be seemingly unaware of the nation it represents is unforgivable.”