The Wolf Tattoo
Wed 20 Jun, Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff.
There’s a sense of anticipation in the air tonight at the drama about to unfold on the floor in front of us at Chapter Arts Centre as award-winning writer Lucy Gough and Company of Sirens productions present their latest work The Wolf Tattoo.
In a post-apocalyptic world, survival means being part of a pack. If you aren’t part of a pack then you are dead meat. In a dog-eat-dog world (or in this case, wolf) the packs roam the concrete wastelands dressed in real wolf skins, taking what they can and killing when instructed. Graf, a young pack member is desperately in love with his girlfriend Rose, but when she finds out that she’s pregnant, the young couple are forced into making difficult decisions. Gwydion Rhys and Saran Morgan play the troubled couple, while Jarred Ellis Thomas plays Shenks – a fellow pack member, who brings a quite superb physical performance. Non Haf plays Ash, the best friend of Rose, torn between her loyalties to her friend and her knowledge of the pack while a mention must go to John Rowley, whose role as the tattooist Snakeskin gave the production a genuinely sinister feel. With a modest set, the actors excelled at using what they had to work with, turning a room the size of your average high school gym into an urban wasteland/homely setting/a tattoo studio with ease.
The production aims to deal with a lot of social issues that we are seeing all too often in young people, with gang culture and knife crime prevalent in modern society. Such is Graf’s loyalty to the pack that he finds it difficult to see another side to life, which is a story that can resonate with a lot of our youth and Shenks’ issues always seem to find closure with a knife. As the UK currently has the highest rate of knife-related fatalities it’s ever had, this feels rather prescient. Company of Sirens also looked to explore the potential of physical non-verbal language throughout the production and this is achieved in style, with the incorporation of sign language into proceedings. At around 55mins long, the pace of the production ran smoothly, giving what time there was to get maximum insight into the characters, but I felt that the last 10 minutes or so, seemed to rush to a conclusion. They could have put more time into a climax that ultimately left a bad taste in the mouth.
But that’s not to take away from the superb work from all involved and The Wolf Tattoo is as fantastic as it is thought provoking; well worth your time and money. Chris Andrews