A night of enormous fun, with some great play writing thrown in, with top class performances from this high-spirited ensemble. All clad in Christmas jumpers, the festive season begins here. With everyone being exhorted to sing from Dirty Protest’s Christmas Song Book.
Our host and ringmaster for the evening, the always-compelling Gareth John Bale welcomed us and set the tone for the evening with the first of the five short plays. Mistakes Have Been Made by the award-winning, West End, guest writer Duncan Macmillian. We were given a retirement speech by an exploitative, and nepotistic boss. \as well as some Pinteresque menace we were also able to enjoy the wry humour that came from the sparkle in the actor’s eye. This vitality and strong stage presence continued throughout the evening with every performer a delight to watch.
Bale took us quickly into the madness of the evening, introducing the first of the many thirty- second ‘Flash Plays’. All performed with great skill and commitment. They came so fast and furiously, hitting you right between the eyes that it was hard to keep up with the stories. We had a side-ways look at the Nativity, Cilla Black, a chat between Holly and Mistletoe even Rolf Harris cropped up, briefly thankfully. There were sixteen ‘Flash Plays’ all little gems.
The Dirty Protesters had determined we would all have a party. We pulled crackers and party poppers, danced the Conga and knocked back shots of Tequila and some lucky people won prizes. Despite this welcome chaos, each time we slipped into drama mode we became totally absorbed in each of the narratives. Sam Bees’ I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday with remarkable strong performances from Rhys Isaac Jones and Gareth Pierce as feuding brothers.
More fast-moving thirty-second dramas. It was remarkable to see how these plays could make such strong points in such a short time. Keeping up the Christmas spirit, next came Mistletoe and Wine by Lara Catrin. Again delightful performances from Melangell Dolma and Holly Carpenter. Lara Catrin’s adaptation of Cliff Richard’s religious song perfectly captures the flavour of the play.
Christmas time, Mistletoe and wine,
Turkey, sprouts and booze all the time,
Choc’late logs and a fry up, this stuffing’s a treat,
It’s time to pig out on the food that we eat.
Our relish of the piece was confirmed when we were invited to join in a lusty rendering of the appetizing ditty.
More ‘Flash Plays’ again with lots of laughter. Then “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Nicola Reynolds. Again more beautiful and very skillful acting from Lowri Palfrey and Rhys Warrington. An alarming fantasy here, best not revealed. And finally, well almost Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Benjamin Partridge. Quite contrasting performances by the still and efficient Anni Dafydd and the frustrated hilarity of Garth John Bale’s foxed enquirer.
Dirty Protest is a great ensemble, they know how to do good strong theatre and they know how to have fun. The directors giving us lots of theatre and fun tonight were Daniel Jones, Catherine Paskell, Rhys Ap Trefor and Julia Wyndham. With everything under the control by one of the original Dirty Protesters, Claire Hill.
The ‘flashy’ playwrights were Chantel Mathias, Ross Southard, Owen Thomas, Laura Cotton, Conner Allen, Gareth Smith, Caroline, Stockford, Geraint Cardy, Tim Collins, Terry Victor, Shane Anderson, Sam Lane, Ffion Jones, Matthew Ingram, Ness Owen and Michael Leitch. Other early Dirty Protesters like Tim Price and Matthew Bulgo have gone on to become award-winning playwrights. I suspect there might well be a few potential award winners here.
In their program they acknowledge “everyone who has made 2015 a fantastically Dirty year.” I’ve no doubt they will go on to have an even dirtier one next year.
Until December 19, Chapter, Cardiff