I’m very excited today. I’m excited because tonight I’m going to watch Run Amok’s fourth production Flowers of the
Dead Red Sea written by Ed Thomas which is being performed by Rhodri Brady and Matt Christmas. I’m excited because having seen two of their first three productions I am waiting with baited breath to see what this company are going to do next.
Now quite a lot of you are going to ask some questions after the first paragraph – Who are Run Amok? Who is Rhodri Brady? Who is Matt Christmas? Also worryingly a lot of people, even in Wales are going to say – who is Ed Thomas?
Let’s deal with the easy one – Ed Thomas is the co-creator, executive producer and writer of Hinterland. Yes that Hinterland, the one that everyone is talking about at the moment because it was filmed in Ceredigion and is ambitiously setting its sight to be the new Nordic- noir thriller. Who would have thought five years that Nordic noir thriller would be a genre?
I should state at this point that you shouldn’t go to see Flowers of the Dead Red Sea because you like Hinterland or Nordic noir thrillers, it is not Hinterland – there is no detective, no murder mystery – there is however two butchers in an extremely darkly comic and absurdist play.
Now long before Ed Thomas began to focus on television and film writing he was a playwright – he was a playwright in the 90’s in Wales, he created his own theatre company and then he gave up on theatre in Wales and headed to the safer world of television and film. You can’t really blame him – playwrights are ignored, playwrights are not produced, playwrights don’t have their voices nurtured – in Wales anyway. This genuinely is an extremely rare opportunity to see a play by Ed Thomas – it hasn’t been produced in over 20 years.
So Run Amok – who are they? Founded by Artistic Directors Izzy Rabey and Jonathan Patton – Run Amok has been on an impressive trajectory of performing ambitious, complex and challenging texts. They are a student company – a company of recent graduates, Jonathan is currently in London studying for an MA and Izzy is about to head to London to do an MA. Now though the ground is heavy with student companies in towns and cities with theatre departments, and those student companies walk through the ashes of student companies which have walked there before – from those ashes emerge the companies of the future. As far as I’m concerned that phrase emerging theatre – that’s where it’s from – it’s the companies that make it through those first few years of being a student company. I have absolutely no doubt that Run Amok are going to become one of the leading voices of Welsh theatre - well they will be if we give them a reason to be, if we support them and nurture them. It is really hard being an emerging company in Wales, people don’t know the company, they dismiss them as yet another young student company. But Run Amok are different- they have one foot in London and one foot in Wales – though admittedly that foot is Izzy Rabey’s extremely rooted foot.
The foot in London is a good thing too because they have forced the work of a Welsh playwright into a theatre in London – Welsh written and produced theatre is very rarely seen in London. Let’s face it it’s rarely seen in Wales. It is barely – if ever seen outside of Cardiff. Welsh theatre companies touring work – you can count them on one hand. Welsh companies touring work by Welsh writers – I’m really struggling now. Yes there are exceptions but as someone working and writing within the theatre industry in Wales – I really hope we can find our way to more than exceptions. But don’t go to watch Flowers of the Dead Red Sea because you want to support one of the exceptions – though that is a good reason to see it.
Run Amok are a company to be watched –not only in a watch a meteoric rise as you read reviews and articles about them over the next few years – but as an experience of live theatre. Live theatre which is guaranteed to make you laugh and think. Most importantly live theatre which will include performances from Rhodri Brady and Matt Christmas. This is the thing which excites me the most about going along tonight to see Flowers of The Dead Red Sea – I literally can’t wait to experience the chemistry between these two amazing performers. Performers who are new, magically untrained and untarnished , and offer so much promise for exciting futures, put them together with the words of Ed Thomas , the direction of Izzy Rabey, scenographic design from Maisie Baynham and sound designed by Kyle Arrowsmith and you are absolutely guaranteed an amazing experience of emerging theatre at its very best.
Flowers of the Dead Red Sea by Ed Thomas, by Run Amok is at Aberystwyth Arts Centre 1st May, Rosemary Branch Theatre 8th and 9th May and Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Richard Burton Theatre 10th May. The Aberystwyth Arts Centre performance includes a post-show talk with Ed Thomas.
Ed Thomas wrote new monologues as trailers for the show which were filmed by Pete Telfor for Culture Colony which you can view on YouTube hereJoe