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REVIEW: Explosion with Welsh lilt; Oleanna Clwyd Theatr Cymru.

Byline: Lew Baxter

IN a daring departure from the norm,director Emma Lucia has elected to banish the American accents from this controversial polemic by David Mamet and it is even more potent with a Welsh lilt.

During the explosive dynamics of this memorable production, traditionally regarded as engaging the genders in a war of attrition, there occurred a flash of insight to contradict that received wisdom.

It surely is a more powerful example of conflict per se,in all its irrationality,fuelled and magnified by a sheer lack of communication that ensnares all in the trap, rather than a war of the sexes invoking political correctness. Another diverting innovation is Emma Lucia's taut direction in the round,leaving the two protagonists,Catrin Rhys as student Carol and Gwyn Vaughan Jones as the university professor John,exposed to both the furious tempo they unleash and the unwavering gaze of an enraptured audience.

What Mamet discloses is a clash of temperaments and ideologies.

The professor is a pompous, self-serving prig and the student vulnerable until the power roles are in essence reversed.

The American playwright may well have used sexual harassment and harrowing accusations of rape as a template but these two consummate actors deliver a much broader brief.

They grapple verbally and mentally with misunderstandings of cultures, and to an extent the difference of creeds in the social sense, that ultimately leads to crisis and chaos.

Catrin and Gwyn have worked together before but as father and daughter -their Scout and Atticus relationship in Mocking Bird a tour de force, where an avuncular approach was more acceptable. In this instance that stance shreds the very security of the professor's cloistered existence and Vaughan Jones cuts loose with a performance that is at times breathtaking in its intensity.

This is the first time Catrin Rhys has tackled an adult role. And she doesn't leave us wanting, delivering a considered, slow burn to fiery interpretation of the wronged student's confrontation with her mentor/tormentor.

The starkness of the set forces the focus on the emotional blitzkrieg that unfolds, before the plot hurtles towards an anguished,exhausting clash of physical and moral disasters. A triumphant production.
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Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 21, 2003
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