It’s that time of year again! With Christmas nearing and 2023 drawing to a close, we take a look back at some of the best art and cultural offerings to come out of Wales this year. Today, we’re reflecting on the best Welsh theatre of 2023.
Sorter by Richard Mylan
Sorter, Mylan’s debut play, comes recommended by Ally-Joh Gowan-Day, who was lucky enough to be at its opening night. A wonderful mix of dark and laugh-out-loud funny, Mylan offers an intense two-hander exploring the struggles of addiction and the social stigma surrounding it. Sensitively directed by Francesca Goodridge, Sorter is a beautifully ugly, bite-sized triumph.
Pijin/Pigeon by Theatr Iolo & Theatr Genedlaethol
Adaptated from Alys Conran’s award-winning novel of the same name, Pijin/Pigeon follows a young man using his imagination and his love of words to distract himself from the horrors of his home life. It is undeniably moving to see the emotion so palpable in Alys Conran’s novel brought to life so enthusiastically on stage. You can read the full review here
A Beautiful Rhythm of Life and Death by Gary Raymond
Company of Sirens and Gary Raymond join forces for A Beautiful Rhythm of Life and Death, a new play which explores the life and work of Welsh writer Dorothy Edwards
Housemates by Tim Green
Saoirse O’Connor enjoyed laughter, dancing and joy in Tim Green’s new play, Housemates. It follows Jim Mansell, a student and wannabe activist who discovers the history of abuse and scandal in Ely Hospital and fights to make a change to social care forever.
Private Lives by Torch Theatre
Jay Gent enjoyed the sparkling and savage comedy of manners, Private Lives. Sexy, campy, bitchy, glamorous, with not a well-shod foot put wrong, Private Lives is a triumphant directorial debut for the Torch Theatre Company’s Chesley Gillard and another impressive production feat for the cast and crew of the Torch. Oh so gay!
The Bet by Owen Thomas
After successful runs with award-winning plays Grav and Carwyn, Peter Gaskell saw Owen Thomas’s return: The Bet. Using comic dialogue to tell the story of how a decision made by one man has wide-ranging consequences for both himself and everyone around him, this play is filled with humour, wisdom, poetry and even some acapella singing!
Baba Joon by Lisa Zahra
Both an evocative portrayal of a young man arriving in 1970s Wales and a journey of a young woman wrestling with her identity in the 1990s, Baba Joon incoporates both Welsh and Farsi, and is soundtracked to a blend of traditional Iranian music and 90s dance, this play shares a lifetime’s worth of personal reflections and experiences that are specific and universal.
Trouble in Butetown by Diana Nneka Atuona
Trouble in Butetown focuses on the multicultural community in Cardiff, set during Second World War. Now playing at the prestigious Donmar Warehouse, with a cast including TV favourite Sarah Parish and directed by Tinuke Craig, Wales Arts Review unearthed how a story of diverse, working-class Wales found itself in the spotlight.
Romeo and Julie by Gary Owen
Owen’s retelling of the classic story is set in Cardiff, with the story framed within a familiar working class setting and taking Owen, and director Rachel O’Riordan, back to the theatre where Iphengenia in Splott first propelled them onto the wider theatre scene – Emma Schofield reviewed it for us.
Rhinoseros by Manon Steffan Ros
Ros’ Rhinoseros is adapted from Eugene Ionesco’s 1959 absurdist masterpiece and translated into Welsh for Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru. Full of humour, grim satire, and an unfortunately poor translation app (as outlined by Gary Raymond), the play follows Berenger who sees his townsfolk slowly turn into the titular pachyderms.
Stay tuned for December 22nd to find out Wales Arts Review’s Play of the Year.