Sherman Cymru, Cardiff
Thu 12 July
words: ADRIENNE WALKER
Taking a somewhat unexpected step away from their usual ethos of performing new Welsh work in unusual and accessible venues, Dirty Protest have taken on their first full length theatre production in the beautifully renovated Sherman Cymru. After The End, written by Olivier Award winning Dennis Kelly in 2005, is a thrilling study of the impact of nuclear terrorism on the lives of two young professional Londoners.
Mark, played by Gruffudd Glyn, is an awkward but initially sweet outsider who has rescued his popular work colleague Louise, played by Kezia Burrows, from the disintegrating and corpse-ridden streets of the city. The next one and half hours of the one-act play explores how they struggle to survive in Mark’s conveniently well prepared 80s era nuclear bunker.
Initially the harrowing nature of their circumstance is ably balanced by Mark’s humorous attempts to organise and prepare for the days to follow. However, with no contact from the outside world, the relationship between himself and the woman he so wants to impress disintegrates into a brutal and chilling battle for power.
Both actors handle the challenging work well, as you would expect from their previous experience with the RSC and National Theatre Wales. Glyn has two particularly disturbing and explicit scenes to deliver but does so with such a level of commitment you aren’t even sure if you should be watching. Burrows’ quietly spoken dialogue is at times lost in the larger venue, which is a shame given that I was only sitting in the second row of the audience, but I’m sure that’s something the company will ably rectify if they intend to continue performing in more traditional theatres rather than the intimate spaces they are used to.
It is a darkly humoured, claustrophobic and disturbing experience which left me reflecting on whether we should spend less time worrying about the potential impact of a global “War On Terror” and more on what horror may be waiting to spring on us from our own doorstep.
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