Grown up stuff from Theatr Iolo

November 3, 2016 by

Despite being know primarily as a children’s theatre company Theatr Iolo is also incredibly proud of its ‘Curate’ strand of activity that brings boundary pushing contemporary theatre for older audiences to Wales.  This season they have programmed Christopher Brett Bailey’s kissing the Shotgun Goodnight and Comeback Special by Greg Wohead, two theatre makers rapidly gaining a reputation as being at the forefront of thrillingly experimental theatre.


Both pieces could be described as gig-theatre but this wouldn’t do justice to the extreme blurring of the performative lines that we see in both artists’ very different works.


First up is Comeback Special by Greg Wohead, a Texan artist Theatr Iolo brought to Cardiff last year with his much-lauded The Ted Bundy Project. Wohead’s new show takes the recognisable persona of Elvis Presley and the well know American TV special that came to be know as his comeback special as a starting point to trace the past and contemporary issues surrounding identity. When he came across the TV programme he was immediately struck by its potency and ridiculousness – the in the round set up that reflected both power and vulnerability, the idea of the comeback and the attempt to come back as the best version of oneself.


In this critically acclaimed play Wohead acts simultaneously as an Elvis stand-in, a floor manager and a medium, guiding the audience through the TV special as he remembers it from repeated viewings. This is an exploration of slippage, desire and desirability. The performance is also extremely playful and according to Wohead the show “isn’t exactly about Elvis, so there’s no need to arrive with any knowledge of him, but if you are an Elvis fan it might give you a different and interesting perspective”


Greg Wohead, Comeback Special.  Image: Richard Eaton

For those who like their theatre to be a full on attack of the senses then Kissing the Shotgun Goodnight will not disappoint. After Theatr Iolo brought Christopher Brett Bailey’s unforgettable one man show This is How We Die to Chapter they were keen to forge a closer relationship with him so this time around they are associates on this new piece commissioned by the Ovalhouse.


Christopher Brett Bailey’s work is raw, visceral and an exciting blend of spoken-word and theatrical performance. In kissing the Shotgun Goodnight live music (performed by Brett bailey and another two ‘band members’) give the audience an aural onslaught described as a ‘neo-nor fever dream and a 120 decibel suicide note. A dense poetic blend of the hallucinogenic and the hardboiled, all set to a pulverising live score of haunting music and dark psychedelia’. It has been described as a total “immersive sensory experience”, interspersed with Bailey’s words that are imbued with a richness that confronts the audience head on emotionally. The live music itself has been compared to cult post-rock bands God Speed you Black Emperor and Mogwai, masters too of performance as sonic journey.


Both shows are curated by Theatr Iolo at Chapter Arts Centre and are part of a Mini Experimentica this autumn at Chapter, showcasing work that has an experimental approach.



By Greg Wohead

Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff

31 October & 1 November, 8pm

Tickets: £12/£10 or see both shows for £20 or £16 concessions

Box office:  02920 304400



By Christopher Brett Bailey

Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff

2 & 3 November, 8pm

Tickets: £!2/£10 or see both shows for £20 or £16 concessions

Box office:  02920 304400


Main image: Kissing The Shotgun Goodnight. The Other Richard.

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