PAINES Plough was formed back in 1974 and I have long been aware of its great reputation, so when I was asked to review this show I jumped at the chance, not least because it was also to be performed in a pop-up tent and the synopsis sounded decidedly quirky.
Let’s deal with the ‘tent’ part first. If you’re thinking of something with guy ropes and lots of poles, you’re way off beam – this is the world’s first pop-up, plug-and-play theatre, Roundabout, and is a sturdy, state-of-the-art 150-seater with surround sound and LED lighting. The company say they’ve tried to make it comfortable, colourful, welcoming and fun, and I’d say they’ve succeeded on every level. Each of the sections has different colour cushions on the chairs and it amused me that, like us, several people were choosing their seats on the basis of colour preference – all the seats have the same view and are close to the action, which is, of course, played in the round.
This production, also in conjunction with Sherman Cymru and Theatr Clwyd and part of a short touring festival, is simply gorgeous and I could happily sit through it again. Alan Harris’ play is short, just an hour and a quarter, and is laugh-out-loud funny with a distinct streak of black humour running through it, and although essentially about the development of a fledgling relationship it goes off in wonderfully weird directions that are so easy to see in the mind’s eye despite the lack of any set or props. As I write this I am still visualising the wonderful scene at the hotel reception desk and then outside among the crowds, and as for that rabbit’s head…
The cast – Remy Beasley, Richard Corgan and Andy Rush – absolutely work their socks off. They are never off the stage so cannot change costumes, yet each of their various characterisations is completely different with no doubt as to which person they are portraying, as every single one is fully rounded and beautifully acted. Richard perhaps has the hardest roles, switching between Polish father, seedy student/ would-be film-maker, Welsh lover and ice-cream salesman Mr Tutti Frutti with consummate ease, but all three performers do a fantastic job.
There are further performances this Saturday, 17th, at 4pm and on Sunday at 3pm, with booking through Lighthouse or at the door. Highly recommended.