Critcal Chinwag Love Labours Won Thursday 3rd March- Claire Prosser

Ryan Smith’s version of Love Labours Won was brought to life by the talented cast of Avant Theatre Company, bringing it right up to present day. Not just present day, but made local and relevant to us, in the Rhondda Valleys with the set of the ‘Bard Head’ mimicking that of our local rugby club. Great to know this was supported by a local business too. The venue, a stone’s throw from my childhood house, is the venue that my Grandad remembered being the ‘Pictures.’ After it being quietly worked on for a couple of years now, it has finally opened to the public. The Savoy Theatre, joins in as being one of the local theatres in the Rhondda Valleys which I hope people cherish, use and enjoy because they are local and ours and out of the Cardiff circle. I feel this venue has the potential of being a multi-use hub for the community- and I was so delighted to enter the doors to support this fantastic show there.

So, Love Labours Won, my questions before hand were whether I would follow the language as my memory cast me back to all of the underlining and translation going on in my GCSE English classroom. I needn’t have been worried about this, the characters were played with such energy, delivering every role and action on point, that the language slipped into the background and became the language of us all. I was also wondering whether, in the 400 year celebration - Is Shakespeare still exciting, relevant and necessary in 2016?

The answer for me is: Yes, definitely. As one of the quotes from the play instils, does the topic of love, ever get old? For with love comes hate, with love comes companionship, with love comes conflict, with love comes blindness and turmoil, with love comes lust and desire, with love comes richness and health, with love comes success and failure. Aren’t all these things relevant and true to us now? Aren’t all of these things worthy to consider in a world which is tarnished with unjust, warfare, political challenges and borders. Is love the language that rings with everyone in the world?

I was so delighted to have had the opportunity to watch this play and get to know the cast a little more after the show. Myself and four others put forward questions which settled our curiosities. Learning that they had an astonishingly short 13 days to get to know each other and learn the lines was testament to the talent and dedication within each of these young actors. Learning of their Tango workshops and walking a catwalk to ensure that Annabelle could perfect her sexy strut, to the raunchy scenes played by the characters of Valentine and Catherine being down to getting on with the dirty business and not pussy footing around. Rachel Miller purposefully cast the actors into roles that they wouldn’t usually associate themselves with, and through working with each other and honing one another’s skill set, they really pulled it out of the bag. It seemed like such fun being up there!

The use of the stage and auditorium made for really dynamic viewing. At various times the performers entered from behind us in the seats and there were some moments of spilling off the stage using the floor spaces directly in front of the audience. Many lines were made interactive, being performed making eye contact with us, making us totally intrinsic to the plots. The music also allowed us to really feel involved and included in each of the scenes and believe Katie Harris, the director, achieved the Jukebox type feel she’d hoped for.

The actors shared us chin wagers hopes for more theatre like this in the valleys and we started sharing ideas of how people can feel more encouraged to engage with theatre around here. Looking at a balance between gigs we all know and love, with new writing. Can Tonyrefail and the valleys be a venue for fringe theatre? We sure feel not only want it but need it in these areas of South Wales. This event was so fantastic and the feedback from the audience so far has been wonderful. This can only be a great start to a long and successful future of theatre here Tonyrefail. 

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