Theatr Clwyd Company
26 September – 12 October 2019
Described as a dark comedy and a modern day Under Milk Wood, Emily White’s debut play has a challenging legacy.
Did the ghost of Dylan Thomas stalk the stalls? Perhaps with a nod to the Welsh bard, characters include a Dylan and a Myfanwy. Emily White has written an ambitious play for today, a social commentary through the focus of one night in a rundown Welsh town.
Pavilion, directed by Olivier award-winning Tamara Harvey, is an unapologetically Welsh play: the first half ends with a chorus of Land of My Fathers, sung in Welsh of course, and a large descending image of the Welsh dragon. It’s brash, in your face raunchy, loud, oddly old-fashioned, sexually cliched, and a sometimes uncomfortable mix of musical and drama.
The cast of predominantly young actors, some making their professional debut, bring an energy and honesty to their sometimes hapless, sometimes angry, sometimes hopeful characters.
Social issues – the closure of the local school, the lack of meaningful employment, stunted aspirations, teenage pregnancy, blatant misogyny – emerge then subside into yet another drunken round at the pub for its last-ever disco at the soon-to-be closed Pavilion.
There are strong performances from Victoria John as Big Nell, the tough-talking, no-nonsense barmaid in love with suspended teacher Dylan (Tim Treloar), Caitlin Drake, who brings an earthy warmth to mobile chippy owner, Myfanwy, and Carly-Sophia Davies as Jess, the pneumatic, sexually very much awakened sister of the gauche, love sick Gary (Ellis Duffy).
The set, alternating from pavilion to pub, echoing the changing characters and story lines, works well, and the mobile chippy is a triumph.