I saw Sherman Cymru/Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru‘s Llwyth [Tribe] for the second time last night at the brand new Richard Burton Theatre at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. I loved it all over again, and I was really impressed with the new facilities at RWCMD. The atmosphere was great, the bar overlooks Bute Park, and everything’s clean and well placed. If you haven’t been to check it out, you should definitely get over there!

Now, for your reading pleasure, I present my original review of Llwyth, originally published on Almost Welsh, my former joint blog with @raitapaita on 10 May 2010.

Llwyth [Tribe], Dylan Thomas Theatre, Swansea, 8th May 2010

Llwyth explores the theme of identities, and how these can change the way we respond to the world. The story centres on a group of gay men in Cardiff, ranging from the older, experienced Dada to the young, naïve Gavin making his first steps into the world of the night, to a seemingly mismatched couple.

Dafydd James’ new script is excellent, mostly Welsh language, but mixing in some ‘Wenglish’, along with English for certain characters. If you’re not Welsh speaking don’t let that put you off. I’m a dysgwr (Welsh learner) so I found it fun to see how much I could pick up, but there is at least one performance at each venue with English surtitles.

The main character, Aneurin, played by Simon Watts, has returned from London to his homeland, and his anguish and hiraeth [longing for home] run through the narrative. Aneurin’s various soliloquies showed a depth to the character’s emotions that was longing to be set free. Watts’ acting was truly incredible, and had me gripped from start to finish.

Some wonderful references to Welsh life are also included through the story, as they have meaning for each of the characters. Highlights for me were regular references to traditional Welsh song and poetry forms from the Eisteddfod and ‘O’r Fan Acw’ [the Welsh version of the song ‘From a Distance’] performed in truly individual style!

The small-scale Dylan Thomas theatre, an ideal setting, was packed with a very appreciative audience, who gave the cast a well-deserved standing ovation. The performances throughout were brilliant. Each cast member had to play several smaller parts as well as their main character, and did so with brilliant clarity. From lighter funny scenes, to portraying a drug-induced haze, through to emotional torture each emotion was vivid and clear, and I really felt drawn into the story.

The play is on tour around Wales at the moment, after starting at Chapter in Cardiff, and I strongly recommend catching it if you can. A fantastic evening of theatre!

Photo by Farrows Creative, with thanks to Sherman Cymru