our best reviews of 2019

Our Best Reviews of 2019

At Wales Arts Review we believe critical writing should be worth reading for its own sake. With that in mind, here is a small selection of the hundreds of reviews we published in 2019, and a small display of the quality critical writing our writers produce.

Fiction

Kathryn Tann reviews a transcontinental anthology of short stories in Zero Hours on the Boulevard, as well as the hotly anticipated new novel from Alys Conran, Dignity.

Josie Cray reviews Throw Me to the Wolves, the latest novel from two-time Wales Book of the Year-winning author Patrick McGuinness.

Sion Tomos Owen reviews the debut novel from Aled Smith, the macabre black comedy of Leading to Texas-2.

Gemma Pearson reviews the much anticipated new novel from prolific Welsh language novelist Caryl Lewis, The Jeweller.

Gareth Kent reviews Cynan Jones’s intimate portrayal of life’s perseverance in the face of ecological decline, in his new novel through short stories, Stillicide.

Non-Fiction

Adam Somerset on Wales Arts Review‘s book of the year, Martin Johnes’s Wales: England’s Colony?

Nick Davies reviews the new book, Trailing Clouds of Glory by Nick Burnell, published by Y Lolfa – an unabashedly nostalgic story which shines a light on Welsh football’s forgotten heroes of the 1970s.

Poetry

Sophie Baggott on Richard Gwyn’s Stowaway and Jonathan Edward’s Gen.

Laura May Webb finds that Zoë Brigley’s third poetry collection, Hand and Skull, cuts right to the bone.

Thomas Tyrrell reviews Erato, Deryn Rees-Jones’s fifth collection of poetry.

Exhibitions

Scott Baines explored the ‘market’ theme of Yoke’sWe Can Only See Today, in Ty Pawb in Wrexham.

Tracey Rees-Cooke takes in a bold new pop art exhibition at the Mostyn Gallery in Llandudno which brings together Derek Boshier and Cardiff’s S. Mark Gubb.

Gary Raymond reviews Then and Now, an exhibition to mark 80 years of the Contemporary Art Society for Wales, at the Glynn Vivian Gallery in Swansea.

James H.F. Lloyd reviews the possibilities of a house as Plas Bodfa on Anglesey hosts its first exhibition, bringing together an array of installation artists to a unique setting.

Cinema

Paul Chambers on Clint Eastwood’s The Mule.

Gary Raymond reviews the latest Welsh movie, Last Summer, and argues a bad script and fumbled plot is the least of its problems; and also Gwen, the debut feature from writer/director William McGregor starring Maxine Peake and Eleanor Worthington-Cox.

Theatre

Gary Raymond on the immersive Daughter performed in Kolkata, India.

Karin Koehler casts a critical eye over Anweledig, Aled Jones Williams’ drama about a woman’s intense battle with depression.

Emily Garside looks at the new play from Dirty Protest, Sian Owen’s How to Be Brave.

David Cottis travelled to Finborough Theatre London to witness a production of Maggie May.

Grace Patrick was at the Edinburgh Fringe catching as many Welsh productions as she could find.

Caragh Medlicott reviews the return to the stage for writer Ed Thomas, whose On Bear Ridge marks the centre piece for National Theatre Wales’s 2019 programme.

Georgia Winstone reviews I Wish I Was a Mountain, a co-production between the egg and the Travelling Light Theatre Company, and presented for tour in Wales by Theatr Iolo.

Music

Max Ashworth reviews the latest solo album from the Super Furry Animal frontman, Pang! by Gruff Rhys.

Kevin McGrath reviews the long-awaited debut album from Silent Forum, Everything Solved at Once.

Live Music

Nigel Jarrett visits St David’s Hall to witness a St Valentine’s Day performance of pulsating rhythms, cyclical chords, and shifting harmonies, in Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians by London Sinfonietta.

After four years away from the musical fray, the Greco-Welsh pop phenomenon Marina returns with a fourth album and a UK tour that takes in the Royal Albert Hall. It’s here that Craig Austin catches her take to the stage without her ‘Diamonds’ in the same week of Love + Fear‘s release.

Cath Barton travelled to St David’s Hall to witness the awarding of the prestigious Main Prize at the culmination of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2019.

Live

Gary Raymond was at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to catch Rhod Gilbert’s first full length stand up routine in over seven years.

Marine Furet reports from a day of discussion on industry and craft at the BBC Writersroom Festival in Cardiff.

Dance

Gary Raymond on National Dance Company Wales’s Awakening.

Aaron Facer catches the new touring production from, Tri Darn / Three Works, from Ballet Cymru at the Riverfront Theatre in Newport.

Opera

Cath Barton attended the Wales Millennium Centre to witness the final part of Welsh National Opera’s 2019 Spring Season, Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux.

In Hans Krása’s Brundibár Nigel Jarrett witnesses the powerful and moving conclusion of Welsh National Opera’s summer season on the theme of Freedom.

David Truslove travelled to ROH’s Linbury Theatre for a performance of Gerald Barry’s The Intelligence Park.

Radio

Adam Somerset listens in on a Radio 4 panel discussion about Owain Glyndŵr – Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the man behind the major Welsh revolt against England.

Television

Gary Raymond on Hanna Jarman and Mari Beard’s comedy drama, Merched Parchus, S4C’s first straight to streaming production, and on the new Russell T Davies drama Years and Years.

James H.F. Lloyd reviews the hard-hitting new television drama from the pen of Alan Harris, The Left Behind.