Thursday, 25 September 2014

Potty Mouthed Poetics

Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco
Waking Exploits
Chapter Arts Centre, Theatre
23rd September 2014

Waking Exploits revival of Gary Owen’s Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco is proof that all you need for captivating theatre is a great script and committed performances.

Bleak life in a typical Welsh town is examined through three extended monologues delivered by the town’s distressed male inhabitants. Three men with completely different personalities give us a glimpse into their personal struggles with masculinity and the power exerted by various unseen women over their small-town lives.

Jordan Bernarde's complex performance as Gary

‘Crazy’ Gary (Jordan Bernarde) runs the local disco on a Thursday night, or at least he used to, before some d**khead in a red bow tie took over with his “kare-f**cking-oke”. Gary is the shaven-headed bully, who knows how to charm us..... and the ladies. With his potty mouthed poetics Gary fools everyone into thinking he is the town tough-man, but there’s more to the thug when he spots the perfect woman at a house party.

Perhaps the most tragic of the trio is wannabe cabaret singer Matthew D. Melody (Gwydion Rhys) who believes he can fix other people’s ailing marriages by putting a little bit of his heart into the classic love songs he performs. Clearly damaged, his frequent mentions of the doctor leave us to wonder why such a gentle, religious soul has sudden outbursts of violence and why he always stutters on the word ‘mother’.

Left to tie the three narratives together is downtrodden Russell (Sion Pritchard). Every day he threatens to leave the small town behind, but somehow his dominating girlfriend always holds him back with a combination of threats, abuse and sexual allure. Always the underdog Russell struggles with the ties that hold him to his hometown. How far can a man like him be pushed before he breaks?

Sion Pritchard as the understated Russell

The power the three actors held over the audience was astounding, each new story felt as though it was being told solely for my benefit, not for the room at large. The performers really can’t be praised enough.

Sadly for me the design distracted from the intensive eye-contact and soul baring. The film projected on to large mirror-like shards hanging from the ceiling felt too distanced from the actors to be absorbed as part of the same stage image. Often the content of the footage heavy-handedly underlined common threads in the stories, taking the enjoyable task of making their own connections away from the audience. Perhaps other venues will suit this layout more, but for the Studio theatre at Chapter I wanted less mess, less smoke and more focus on the actors.

Gwydion Rhys praying as Matthew with projections above

It’s an absolute joy to see such a successful Welsh play return to the place it was first performed 13 years later. Now a whole new audience can experience how haunting and effective such a simple premise can be. Waking Exploits are doing an incredible job of bringing the best in new British writing to the stages of Wales – long may they continue!

Photographs thanks to Farrows Creative

For more on the show or Waking Exploits please visit:

The show continues at Chapter until Sat 27th September and then tours around Wales.
17 - 27 September
 / 029 2030 4400

01 October
Halliwell Theatre / 01267 676 669

03 October
Aberystwyth Arts Centre / 01970 623 232

07 October

09 October

Taliesin Arts Centre / 01792 602 060

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