I saw Dafydd James’ Llwyth at Cardiff’s Sherman theatre on the very last night of its run. It’s a play that’s travelled far – to Edinburgh and even to Taiwan – and garnered praise, often lavish, along the way. But despite what might have been an understandable weariness after so many outings the actual energy of the cast suggested they were hooked up to the National Grid. And the play, well it made me breathless. It pulsed. It pumped. It switchbacked registers of language all the way from heightened poetic to gutter demotic which were themselves a source of energy and beauty. Most simply put, it’s the best Welsh language play written in my lifetime.
Semi-autobiographical, Llwyth charts booze-fuelled events in Cardiff on the night of rugby international as four gay friends diss and flirt, roister and bicker. They form the eponymous tribe and with references to the very earliest expressions of masculinity in Wales, Y Gododdin – a poem about a doomed band of warriors – through the testosterone aggression of rugby players to the camp sparkle of Cardiff Bay queens it charts the male spectrum. The young cast, with Simon Watts as Aneurin at the damaged heart of the piece, gave it their all. Funny, tender, insightful and deeply moving, this is a tribe that marches on in the memory, proud and unbowed.