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Posts Tagged ‘Gary Owen’

Killology is a computer game, a rather nasty computer game where the more vicious the killing, the more points you accumulate, and it’s made Paul a fortune. He’s one character in this play; the other two are Davey, the victim of a crime which may be inspired by it, and Davey’s estranged dad.

I loved playwright Gary Owen’s last two plays Violence & Son and Iphigenia in Splott, but I struggled with this at first, largely because of the non-linear narrative and the lack of interaction between the characters, but it drew me in. This is partly because it is unpredictable, and you have to work to piece it together, and partly because of the three brilliant performances.

It’s an excellent debate about how computer games may influence behaviour, but it’s much more than that. It covers issues of guilt, revenge and retribution, parental accountability, but above all father and son relationships, which seem to be indestructible, whatever is thrown at them. It becomes very moving at times, particularly when Davey ends up looking after his dad, which he never did for him.

I was impressed by Sion Daniel Young when he played the lead in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time on my second visit and I was just as impressed by his performance here as Davey, particularly how he matures from boy to man. Sean Gleeson plays his dad, Alan, with great conviction and passion. Richard Mylan does very well conveying the somewhat unsympathetic character of Paul.

It may not be up to the previous two, but it does confirm Owen as a major playwright and it’s well worth catching.

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What I loved most about this brilliant but harrowing play was its unpredictability. And the terrific performances. Oh, and the superb design. In fact I liked just about everything about it.

When his mum dies of cancer, seventeen year old Liam has to move from the north to the South Wales valleys to live with his biological father Rick who he never knew and who doesn’t really want him. They are like chalk and cheese. Liam is intelligent, sensitive and quick-witted. Rick’s nickname is Viol, for Violence, which tells you all you need to know about him. He rules by fear and he’d like his son to be as tough as he is. Liam wants to grieve, Rick wants him to toughen up and get laid. Liam is obsessed with Dr Who. Rick is obsessed with alcohol and sex.

The action takes place in an evening and the following morning in Rick’s living room. Liam has been to a Dr Who convention with his school friend Jen, who’s now finding it impossible to get home in the rain. Rick has been in bed with his lover Suze. The play explores this father and son relationship as it takes some extraordinary turns, with Jen and Suze well and truly caught up in it. It’s a brilliant piece of writing from Gary Owen. The room is circular, wall waist high, with two gated entrances. We’re sat in grubby white plastic seats or on the usual ‘upstairs’ benches on ‘concrete’ behind. Cai Dyfan’s clever design felt like a bullring, which came to seem ever so appropriate given the amount of testosterone on display.

It’s a bit disconcerting when it seems like yesterday you first encountered Jason Hughes as the 20-something gay lawyer on TV in This Life and now he’s old enough to play a 40-something dad – and he’s terrific, cast against type, scaring the life out of me. This appears to be David Moorst’s second stage outing as Liam and it’s a stunning, delicate performance that squeezes every ounce of wit and sarcasm from his lines. Jen’s transition from innocent to a little bit predatory to aggrieved is beautifully handled by Morfydd Clark. Siwan Morris has her own journey from compliant to apologetic to outraged, also navigated brilliantly. It’s a fine set of performances indeed.

The play reminded me a bit of David Mamet’s Oleanna, where people left the theatre with different takes on it. It’s inconclusive, which means it continues to play in your head for some time. Great theatre. Go!

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