Chapter Arts Centre,Cardiff
Fri 27 May
words: LYNDA NASH
Paint is the debut production by Cardiff-based Black Button Theatre Company. Written and directed by Matthew Crawford, it tells the story of a young artist caught between his creative fantasy and the real world.
Sam Jones plays an English boy who is preoccupied with developing an innovative way of producing art. This involves dressing in fishing gear, thinking and occasionally staring at a blank page. Bethan Witcomb plays Sam’s girlfriend – a Gavin & Stacey-esque Welsh girl who, according to Sam, doesn’t understand the creative process; she understands shopping and shoes. Here we have two characters at loggerheads, both fighting their own corner – literally, there is a microphone on either side of the stage from which the narratives alternate. Sam dreams of success – all he wants is Bethan to shut up and let him be an artist. Bethan wants Sam to wake up and smell the coffee or, more practically, buy himself a pair of shoes. Sam has a degree, and from what he implies we gather that Bethan doesn’t, but as the performance unfolds we begin to wonder who is the more intellectually gifted. “Why couldn’t you get a degree that was worthwhile?” a frustrated Bethan asks and thus opens the debate: are art degrees worthless? She wants Sam to get a real job and pay his own rent. And how can he live without furniture?
This is a play about opposites: creativity versus practicality, dreams versus reality and, to a certain extent, Wales versus England. The topic of employment is relevant for today’s audience living in a time of economic instability. The performances were engaging, occasionally comedic, and the dialogue sharp. Crawford’s un-named characters are well drawn and he uses the original score, composed by Benjamin Talbot, to add to the narrative as if it is a third player. My only complaint is that just as Paint got going, it ended and, at just an hour long, it left me wanting more. A thought-provoking piece of theatre.