CRAZY GARY’S MOBILE DISCO | STAGE REVIEW
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, Fri 19 Sept.
Crazy Gary is the epitome of the kind of person who you hope never to come across on night out. Gary and his mobile disco are the kings of Thursday nights at the local pub, until karaoke steps on his turf.
We soon find out, through his monologue, that Gary (Jordan Bernarde) is a bully and a brute who lives a life of beer, brawls and ‘babes’. He talks us through his night, starting at the pub and leading into fights and attempts at flirting with ‘the perfect girl’.
Though it’s Gary’s name on the theatre ticket, he isn’t the only man to give his monologue. As his night draws to a close we’re introduced to Matthew Melody (Gwydion Rhys) – a disillusioned, unemployed and religious karaoke singer who is determined to changes people’s lives as a cabaret singer – and eventually Russell (Sion Pritchard), a man who is just desperate to get the hell out of this town.
As the night goes on, relieved through each of these men, the layers are peeled back. Secrets are revealed, truths are told and the plot escalates into dark places.
The performances of Bernarde, Rhys and Pritchard are absolutely outstanding. Theatre company Walking Exploits had strong characters to work with (back in 2001 Crazy Gary was the breakthrough play from Welsh writer Gary Owen) but the acting was spot on. Director Matt Ball has chosen a talented cast and worked them well. Leaving the theatre it was harder to imagine that they had been acting at all then deal with the fact that these characters weren’t real.
The plot was slowly and delicately revealed, and the stage/sound/lighting (Alison Neighbour , Jane Lalljee and Chris Young respectively) had all be thought through to support this. Projections of teary eyes and foaming mouths seemed needless at first but became more and more potent as secrets were exposed.
The only downside to the show was that it felt a bit too long – though in the same breath I don’t feel there would be an easy solution to this. I left the play feeling like the script occasionally veered into rambling, but wasn’t able to pin-point what should be cut, and that the audience could have benefitted from an intermission, but I didn’t feel that there would have been an appropriate place to put it. It can be easy to critique but sometimes staging a show doesn’t have any simple solutions.
Overall Walking Exploit’s portrayal of Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco is a strong one, and is worth seeing even if it is just for the actor’s fantastic performances and the plot’s twists and turns.
words HEATHER ARNOLD
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, Wed 17-Sat 27 Sept;
Theatr Halliwell, Carmarthen, Wed 1 Oct;
Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Fri 3 Oct;
Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea, Thurs 9 Oct
Tickets: £12/£14. Info: www.wakingexploits.co.uk