Online, July 4-14 2021
80min, no interval
Rhodri Meilir as Jim, looking down the barrel of a lens
About to start rehearsals when the pandemic hit last year, BAFTA award-winning Welsh playwright Alan Harris’s somewhat bleak black comedy was finally put in front of Theatr Clwyd audiences last month, becoming the first live show for the post lockdown reopening.
It now has a new lease of life online, snazzily filmed and edited by an in-house Clwyd team. The three-section set of intense yellow, green and pink is surrounded by cameras and suspended video screens, and with the addition of huge video film projections, is quite an eyeful.
All this tech means you’re never quite sure from one scene to the next whether you’re watching a play, a film being filmed or someone’s inner thoughts. Often it’s all three.
Jim (Rhodri Meilir) is on a government work scheme, putting pepperoni on pizzas. Recent tragedy has left him with mental health problems and though he imagines himself a model employee, in fact he is the bane of line manager Irina’s life. She (Remy Beasley) is under pressure to meet targets and has to give him the heave-ho, but not before he’s managed to top his pizzas with the message Help Me I’m Trapped.
Adrift, at a monthly film club for people with mental health problems, Jim meets Mark (Darren Jeffries), who has an obsession with action movies and, after watching I Hired A Contract Killer, Jim more than somewhat over-identifies with the protagonist and asks Mark to kill him…
The show is a disorientating mix of the serious and surreal. Disturbing down-to-earth everyday difficulties of life, such as not having a functioning boiler and having to shower in cold water, mix with Jim getting drawn into the big screen action of the film, while still worrying about his PIP (Personal Independence Payment) assessment and the death of his mother.
There’s much about the consumer society and the political system in today’s Britain, but the main emphasis is on problems of mental health and the lack of support and understanding.
Stylishly directed by James Grieve and performed by a cast who have clearly not tired of their material during the enforced lay-off, the overall mix is sad, unsettling and constantly surprising.
Info and tickets here