Philobiblon: Theatre Review: <i>Cariad</i> at the Tristan Bates Theatre

Friday, November 25, 2005

Theatre Review: Cariad at the Tristan Bates Theatre

Imagine you've had a really, really, really bad day. After immense emotional turmoil, you, a sophisticated Londoner - and proud of it, have gone to a pub in a little Welsh town that feels like a foreign country. You've got rolling drunk, and only escaped from the local Lothario - chief characteristic that he spits when he talks - when scooped up by a strange woman, perhaps a madwoman. She misunderstands you, you misunderstand her, and she ends up chasing you around her living room with a cross and a knife, trying, perhaps, to kill you.

These are the rib-rattlingly funny opening scenes of Cariad, by the first-time playwright Sophie Stanton, who also plays the meaty role of the fey, rambling Blodwen. She's stayed in the town she was born in but, it emerges, her drunken visitor Jayne (also beautifully played by Rachel Sanders, who manages an entirely controlled stagger with great vermisillitude), was here until the age of nine. She's come back only to spread the ashes of her mother.

Nine's also the age of Blodwen's daughter Emily (Becky John), a sad, difficult child. Jayne says she "doesn't get on with children", yet she bonds almost immediately with the waif, so like her mother must have been.

But Jayne, even when sober, is understandably bemused by Blodwen, a woman jumps between tender solicitude and rambling, crazy-sounding soliloquoys, about everything from dinner being "burnt to a turd", to complaints about "my aching arseholes". Her crowning line is: "My mind is a fart in a colander."
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