St. George’s West (Venue 157)
4 stars ****
IT’S MESSY, it’s wordy, it’s over the top and sometimes all over the place; but still, there’s no resisting the indiscreet charm of this latest show from Sherman Cymru of Wales, which creates a mighty car crash between traditional Welsh culture – the Eisteddfods, the song, the language – and the world of a bunch of gay men, aged between 15 and 50, on a night out in Cardiff. Written in a fabulous mixture of English, Welsh, and the kind of 21st century “Wenglish” – Welsh structure, English vocabulary – that must give the language purists heart attacks, Dafydd James’s play tells the story of young Aneurin, on a weekend home from his life as a temporary office worker and aspiring writer in London, and his chosen family of gay men in the city of his birth, including thirtyish gay couple Rhys and Gareth, and ex-London showbiz extra Dada, now almost 50, but still game for a bit of love and laughter.
It’s a long night in Cardiff, and in its final half-hour, James’s play looks as if it will never end; it has more climaxes than the average porn movie, plunges wildly into emotional excess as Aneurin tries to face up to the death of his mother, and ends, unbelievably, with a fifteen-strong choir arriving on stage to sing a sentimental closing anthem, loosely based on I Am What I Am.
Despite its excesses, though, Llwyth is a play pulsing with energy, the kind of stereotype-busting cultural event which reclaims huge tracts of traditional Welsh male culture – including, after a fashion, the language itself – for those who might once have had to leave Wales entirely, in order to express the sexuality they were born with.
Until 28 August