Sherman Cymru, Cardiff. Thursday 20th Feb
Confession time here. Slightly awkward, but when I agreed to go along and review Blodeuwedd I failed to note that it is performed entirely in Welsh and, despite being a born and bred Welshwoman, my understanding of the language doesn’t stretch very far beyond colours and a few names of animals.
It was when I was reading the multiple warning notices dotted around the Sherman, all written in Welsh, and half-comprehending that there were live animals in the performance, that I started to panic slightly. Having received a thoroughly Welsh education I had a good grasp of the basic plot of Blodeuwedd and was aware that at the close of the play she transforms into an owl. I am terrified of birds. Not off to the best start.
However, despite all of the odds being very much not in my favour, I loved seeing this play. Not being able to understand a single entire sentence for the solid two hour duration of the play (except when they said the Welsh name for ‘rabbit’ twice) led me to focus far more on the details of staging and performance than I usually would and what I saw was magical.
Set almost entirely in the decadent home of our eponymous bride and her husband, Llew Llaw Gyffes, we see the enchanting Blodeuwedd – a woman fashioned entirely from flowers – become frustrated with her imprisonment and her unhappy marriage. Flowers and plants litter their home, changing alongside her fluctuating emotions, and bring her wild nature into the confines of the home.
Finding love with a huntsman, a man as bound to nature as she is, Blodeuwedd plots to kill her husband in order to be free. Llew reveals that he is bound by enchantments and can only be killed when next to a river and stood on a trough. The set then recedes and uncovered the natural environment concealed underneath it, allowing Blodeuwedd and her lover to rid themselves of her husband, in a moment of dark mania.
At the close of the play, Blodeuwedd has lost her lover and is banished by her creator to live forever as an owl. She drifts away from the audience, floating into the darkness as her tinkling, ethereal laugh fades, transforming into the soft screech of an owl. A small white owl glides across the back of the set and the lights fade. It was magical.
words LAUREN SOURBUTTS