National Theatre Wales is touring Feral Monster, written by Bethan Marlow, directed by Izzy Rabey and with music by Nicola T. Chang, a new musical celebrating teenagers and queer Wales.
The cast features Lily Beau, Geraint Rhys Edwards, Carys Eleri, Rebecca Hayes, Nathaniel Leacock and Leila Navabi.
From 15 February to 22 March 2024, Feral Monster tours to Sherman Theatre in Cardiff, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Pontio in Bangor, Ffwrnes in Llanelli (Theatrau Sir Gȃr) and Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon.
Feral Monster is the story of unremarkable teen, Jax, as she/they/whatever navigates love, sexuality, identity, family and the many parts of her loud, opinionated brain. Expelled from school and not even able to get a job at the chippy, Jax is a ‘cheeky, loveable teenage street rat’ living with her Nan in a ‘tiny, boring village’. Against a backdrop of neurons and axons singing in their head, Jax’s brain gives a running commentary on everything they do, don’t do or shouldn’t do. When Jax spots Ffion coming out of the chippy, with their unapologetically loud hair and clothes, sparks fly and queer teenage lust brings together this unlikely match in all its messy, clumsy and awesome glory.
Feral Monster celebrates all teenagers by choosing to spotlight the most mundane teenager in Jax. Anyone who’s ever been a teen will see themselves in this story, as writer Bethan Marlow’s script takes us from the high highs to low lows of the hormonal rollercoaster of adolescence. Alongside identity, sexuality and family, Feral Monster explores friendship, mental health, living in rural Wales, middle-class queerness versus working-class queerness, the impact of being abandoned by parents, and second chances.
Mashing up grime, R&B, soul, pop and rap, the musical’s soundtrack brings Bethan’s lyrics and characters to life. The music was collaboratively composed by Nicola T. Chang with director Izzy Rabey and actors across Wales during a research and development process. Nicola is an award-winning composer/sound designer for theatre and film, whose recent work includes acclaimed shows: For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy (Apollo Theatre West End / Royal Court Jerwood Downstairs / New Diorama) and My Neighbour Totoro (RSC / Barbican).
The creative team all identify as LGBTQIA+.
Bethan has developed Feral Monster in close collaboration with teenagers across Wales – from students at Pupil Referral Units in Pembrokeshire to the LGBTQIA+ youth club of GISDA, a young people’s support charity working in Gwynedd – as well as with performers during the research and development process.
She said, “The story of this play is not autobiographical but all the feelings, fears, thoughts and urges are absolutely a depiction of what went on in my head as a teenager. I know I’m far from being a teenager now but it took this long for me to find the right words.”
Director Izzy Rabey said, “Rural queer stories about teenagers are so rarely seen on UK stages, let alone Welsh ones. It’s been such an honour for me to work on this piece with Bethan, Nicola and the team to create something that’s going to light a fire in the audience’s belly, both musically and visually. To be directing a show like this for our national theatre means so much to me and the weird queer rural kid I was growing up. I can’t wait to share with audiences this explosion of colour, hilarity, despair, teen angst and delightful chaos.”
Lorne Campbell Artistic Director, National Theatre Wales said, “Bethan’s script and Nicola’s soundtrack have such an energy – we can’t wait for it to explode across stages across Wales this spring. Feral Monster’s creative team is so passionate about giving a platform to voices of those excluded. They’re creating a piece of theatre that is both joyous and uplifting, celebrating the extraordinary in every teenager but also the messiness, the mistakes and the recklessness of adolescence.”
Opportunities for young people and LGBTQIA+ groups across Wales
Feral Monster has an accompanying outreach programme for schools and colleges, featuring talks by the lead creatives and Key Stage 4 digital lesson plans. Young musicians across Wales will have the opportunity to learn about making music for theatre and to perform in pre-show or post-show gigs as part of Feral Fest.
As part of our approach to audience care, in each venue, the company is creating “public living rooms”, a concept conceived by a charity called Camerados, where audiences are welcome to gather before and after the performances.
Feral Monster will be made to The Theatre Green Book Intermediate standard whereby 75% of everything used will have had a previous life and 80% will go on to have a future life after the show.
NTW is one of the six organisations to be coordinating The Theatre Green Book alongside National Theatre, National Theatre of Scotland, the Theatres Trust, SOLT/UK Theatre and the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT).
NTW is partnering with The Riverfront in Newport, Aberystwyth Arts Centre and Pontio in Bangor to present three conferences addressing “Welsh Theatre and the Climate Crisis” throughout 2023.
Feral Monster is sponsored by the Principality Building Society and supported by PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund, John Ellerman Foundation, as part of NTWs’ Dramaturg programme, and Jack Arts.
Performance times and dates
Previews: Thursday 15 February – Saturday 17 February, Sherman Theatre
Wednesday 21 February – Saturday 24 February, Sherman Theatre
Thursday 29 February – Friday 1 March, Aberystwyth Arts Centre
Wednesday 6 March – Thursday 7 March, Pontio, Bangor
Wednesday 13 March – Ffwrnes, Llanelli (Theatrau Sir Gȃr)
Thursday 21 March – Friday 22 March – Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon
- Approximate running time: 85 minutes
- Tickets from £50 – £22. Tickets will go on sale on venues’ websites in November.
- 14+ age recommendation.
There will be BSL interpreted and audio described performances, and touch tours.
All venues are wheelchair accessible.