We might officially be in 2022, but there’s still plenty of time to look back at some of the most popular writing to be featured in Wales Arts Review during 2021. From literature deep-dives to reflection on the visual arts to the latest in Welsh language dramas, our readers have eclectic tastes and have kept coming back for more. So, without further ado, here are our top 10 most read reviews of 2021 with entries such as The Pact, Bregus and the Welsh National Opera!
“Make no mistake, Seed to Dust is a long and repetitive book. But it feels less a poorly-edited one than one in which a damaged man repeats his mantra to stress for the reader – and to convince himself – that he has now found peace.” Check out Jim Morphy’s review of this year-long account of the garden that Hamer has tended to for decades here.
“It is hard to capture the fullness of Delicacy without falling back on the cheesy descriptors more commonly saved for movie posters (It’ll make you laugh! It’ll make you cry!) yet that word – fullness – may be the closest to doing it justice.” Caragh Medlicott reviews a memoir by Welsh writer, comedian and actor, Katy Wix. Read more here.
“Expect all the cliches of a domestic noir thriller — threatening anonymous texts, secret woodland meetings and rampant paranoia — but there’s no sense of being tongue-in-cheek about the whipping out of these tropes.” Read Gareth Smith’s review of the opening episode of the made-in-Wales BBC One crime thriller The Pact here.
“People taking selfies, children playing around the base of it, mothers and fathers and sons and daughters gazing at it, discussing it, hanging out around it. If art placed on the buffed floors and whitewashed walls of museums and arts centres must be contemplated in dry silence, then this is what public art is supposed to do.” Gary Raymond reviews Eve Shepherd’s monument to Betty Campbell MBE, the first of a woman in an open space in Wales. Read more here.
“In devising her new production of Madama Butterfly for Welsh National Opera, Australian director Lindy Hume knew she would be replacing a famous one that had been in the company’s repertory for over forty years.” Nigel Jarrett attended the opening night for WNO’s production of Puccini’s opera at Wales Millennium Centre. Read his review here.
“The bare bones of the plot will seem vaguely familiar to fans of thrillers – a woman starts to believe her dead husband is still alive – but this is fleshed out by several intriguing subplots and a collection of engaging characters.” Gareth Smith’s bilingual review of Fflam takes in the latest in a growing list of flourishing Welsh-language dramas. Read more here.
“It is very easy for the protagonists of TV thrillers to seem functional and passive, constantly reacting to more interesting characters while the plot pinballs them around, but Nia Roberts’ performance is unsurprisingly excellent.” Gareth Smith reviews S4C’s four-part series. Read more here.
“The cast put up quite the effort, trying to inject some kinetic energy as you watch them struggle around the interior — and often outside the parameters — of the frame. It’s like watching the events unfold not on a screen but through a letterbox.” Gary Raymond reviews Keith Allen’s latest offering, which reunited the cast of Twin Town and was shot entirely on iPhones. Read more here.
“People in England and Wales and beyond will be surprised by the extent and quality of Welsh Art and even of its existence, especially when so gently and ably delivered.” Ceri Thomas reviews the Huw Stephens-led three-parter from BBC Cymru Wales. Read more here.
“By playing its cards so close to its chest, Bregus risks obscuring any secure narrative trail for us to follow.” Read Gareth Smith’s review of S4C’s six-part thriller here.