After the recent success of Cardiff Boy, writer Kevin Jones returns this time at the Sherman with Shed Man. It’s a slightly surreal affair talking mental health, careers and the joy of having a hobby. Our lead figure is Brian, a 40 something who shows is adamant to complete his shed project on the bank holiday. His wife Emma is taking the kids to the beach and his boss turns up and harassing him about getting papers to the office. His mother Pat pops over for some bread, leading the breakdown of Brian’s mental state.
Here lies a play which begins in a safe territory, though it swiftly becomes compelling and a tension filled hour of theatre. It’s good to see more work in Wales challenging mental health issues and Shed Man has a lot to say in its brief timescale. Directed by Siobhan Lynn Brennan, she is emerging as an acute local talent who should be doing more work at the earliest opportunity. The mix of movement and lighting and sound work finishes the piece with a fine theatrical dusting.
Performances are subtle yet brilliant. Benedict Hurly is Brian, a beyond relatable figure filled with built up anxiety. It’s a quietly poised performance by Hurly, who creates a compelling lead figure who may be struggling with more than we originally perceive. Joe Burke is his boss, Mr Tatum, a strange Pinter like character, who is quietly menacing and soon manipulates Brian so he can get him to deliver papers on his day off. It’s a surprising part, very much the cog in the works or the Bain of Brian’s existence, however you wish to call it.
Siw Hughes is Brian’s mum Pat, a witty local role which tends to steal the show when ever she is on. We see more things get revealed about his dad, who passed way and this views on how he was treated, newly discovered by Pat. Hughes has a blast with the part and we as an audience are compelled to side with her or Brian, due to such tension being created on stage. Emma, Brian’s wife Chrissie Neale, a brief arching performance (seen only at the start and end). She bring a Kurt and loving performance here, caring for Brain and in some ways putting up with his struggles.
It’s a great script, which get more gripping as it goes on. Jones is making great shows at the moment and more of our capital on stage is never a bad thing. Cory Shipps gives us a simple garden set, shed and all for an intimate theatrical encounter. Sound work by Josh Bowles is as always, dark and quietly evocative.
Shed Man is a must see this winter in Cardiff.
A pie and pint is an always welcome addition to the theatre going experience. The Sherman have done a very good job in using this device to entice new audience.
Image Sherman Theatre
This review has been supported by the Wales Critic Fund.
Weeping Tudor Productions present Bernstein Bash! At St Edward’s Church, Cardiff on Saturday 1st December 2018. Join us for songs from West Side Story, Candide and other shows. Expect recital songs and also stimulating piano piece. Join us for the rumble! Book here: