Memo Arts Centre Barry, Sat 5 Apr
“Don’t underestimate what is brewing in fine bone china cups…”
From the ashes of a town that is trying to reignite a new flame comes this unique, site specific performance, the debut production of Bridget Keehan’s Papertrail theatre company.
Boarding a regular local bus at Memo Arts Centre, we took our seats and, tour guide style, donned headphones that would inform our journey. The sound, designed by Chris Young, mixes narrative, music, sound bites and the score seamlessly, creating a storytelling style that is nostalgic, informal and emotive.
Told through short stories seen and imagined, we look and learn about the ‘real’ Barry. Characters and places, times past and legends still present, a Barry I’d never seen before danced, protested, swam and sparkled before my eyes – the good and the ugly, in their grey cloud shrouded glory.
The bus travelled routes it wouldn’t normally take, and through its imperfect windows, each area, each view was made richer as a result of the stories and performances seen.
We met Kitty, the jilted bride with rocks in her knickers, who mourns the absence of her groom daily; Protesting Pat who swims the glades of the old Lido before us, with her friends the synchronised swimmers, who too lament its loss; the ballroom dancers of Bindles perform opposite The Knap’s stoney shore, and the Red Coats sing and dance and wish us to stay at their annual reunion on the housing estate that was once their stage.
Each street holds a story and, though the characters may be fictional, they feel true, which is testament to the thorough research that was undertaken to pull together the memories and emotions of the people of Barry, and create this extraordinary piece of theatre.
Day To Go evokes the tremulous tones of Dylan Thomas’ Undermilk Wood, with its absurdly colourful characters and its mythical nature, but it is more than rich narrative. Through humour and imagination, it addresses themes that are affecting Barry NOW, and other ‘dying’ towns all over the UK: regeneration, loss, complacency.
A wonderful, eye opening experience that never stops giving, the Day To Go bus runs again from Memo Arts Centre Barry on Saturday 12 April at 12pm, 2pm & 4pm, but you’ll have to be quick!
words HARRIET HOPKINS