Friday, 6 February 2015

Y Tŵr - The Tower by Annie

Annie has kindly agreed to review some welsh language productions that have played locally in North Wales.

Y Tŵr - The Tower
    by William Gwenlyn Parry

       Invertigo Theatre Company
    4th February 2015, 7.30pm, Galeri Caernarfon
      A Welsh-language production with English subtitling.

Photo credit: Invertigo Theatre Company
(Accessed from

A stage populated by a variety of white boxes, a portal high up in a wall. A young woman emerges from inside a box and is followed by a young man, sharing and discovering a space which might represent their lives, emotions, even life itself, a space dominated by boxes which at times form a ladder, a tower, a path to the next space, only attained by ascending the tower and journeying through the portal high above.

The Man and Woman spend 80 minutes on stage, locked into various spaces and using the Tower to move to each new episode and phase of existence, a Tower which can only be ascended and not descended.

Their relationship with each other is explored, and their relationship with the Tower,and the space and time it dominates and its power to draw them inexorably upwards, whether they want to move or not, representing in itself the journey of their shared lives and experiences, at times a source of excitement and discovery, at other times an object of fear and regret. Each time they ascend the Tower, they enter a higher, though not necessarily better,space in their life-journey, always travelling together until the last time,where, old age attained, the man moves through the portal alone, his final journey.

The couple move through the journey of life and love, moving via the Tower through their teenage years with all the attached angst, love, jealousy, fear and excitement, all the while both scared and excited to exist within the first room, and then becoming comfortable in the space and fearful yet excited to ascend the tower of adulthood and sexual experience.

In adulthood, middle age; workplace ambition and envy,marital infidelity couple with a heady mix of spite, contempt, love and loathing, entwined inextricably with an emotional co- dependency which leads them continually upwards towards old age, where a grumbling contentment reigns, shared companionship and memories sustaining the relationship and love, as they continue to travel towards death, the next part of their journey.

Three times during the show, a train is heard rushing past, perhaps symbolising the passage of time and events which exist outside their own space, outside the private space in which the Man and Woman exist: enclosed within the Tower of their own experiences, they hear the train passing and perceive it differently, with a different emotional response,on each occasion.

Y Tŵr is a study of the emotions of the couple, their perceptions, both shared and individual, their memories both true and false,their fantasies,feelings and misconceptions,

Invertigo Company presents this play written by playwright and screenwriter William Gwenlyn Parry, by many often considered the Welsh Harold Pinter, living and working in a similar time frame. The production is simply presented: the set is a series of boxes used as props,containers and the constituent parts of the complex entity of the Tower,sometimes  spread across the stage,sometimes piled together to create a staircase toward each next life experience, a sparse white set which seems to highlight that material possessions are ephemeral to the journey. Costuming is also simple, costume changes often taking place onstage as part of the journey.

Catherine Ayers and Steffan Donnelly portrayed the roles of Woman and Man very powerfully, convincingly encompassing a very wide range of emotions and stages in life, often using physical expression and movement in place of dialogue.

This play was incredibly thought provoking, sometimes causing laughter, and sometimes a thoughtful silence,sometimes provoking shock, as the audience followed an emotional journey of its own, evoked by the experience of the characters, and ultimately reflecting part of each individual's journey up their own Tower and through their own portals to new phases in  life.

This is a story that everyone in the audience can relate with on some  level, and for those non- Welsh speakers in the auditorium, the presence of subtitles guarantees that all can understand the themes and emotions presented in this play.

Reviewed by Annie (  )

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