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Review of Whispers in the Wood, performed by the National Youth Theatre of Wales in the Aberystwyth Arts Centre

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Introduction

Review of Whispers in the Wood, performed by the National Youth Theatre of Wales in the Aberystwyth Arts Centre The general plot of the play is a tailors daughter is being wooed by a wolf and her father is very protective of his "little girl" and is overpowered by the evil in the wood to do everything in his power to stop their relationship. I had once many years ago seen this play performed by Mid Powys Youth Theatre and loved every bit of it! I thought that it would be a hard performance to beat but I was wrong. Every single line, note and dance move was perfect down to a pinprick. Even if one of the characters had mucked up a line or move they brushed it over very well. Although the set was very minimal and largely symbolic - particularly for the fairy world- it still seemed that there was a lot on stage. This may have been because there were a lot of drapes and free flow ladders on and around the set. Both of these represented trees and the ladders introduced levels to the performance. The set was also very fairy tale with its net back-drop and flowing pastel coloured drapes, glowing under the UV light. Although not in its usual green and brown tones and lights as you would expect for a wood. ...read more.

Middle

On the other hand if the character was happy the music would be bouncy and lively. The director, Greg Cullen, used a technique that Shakespeare used, where the fairy-like creatures spoke in rhyme and the common-folk / mortals did not. This almost made the fairies more powerful than the mortals. Greg Cullen also used up-to-date AV technology when it came to his visualisations. Instead of having a mirror on the set he used a screen and projector so that when a customer tried on one of the clothes that the tailor had made, they saw what they wanted to see, or what the clothes had made them into in the mirror. This was very effective as when the wolf tried on his jacket you saw an image of a wolf turn into a man. This showed that he aspires to be a man and not a wolf although this quality doesn't shine through until he puts on the jacket and we see he transform into an honourable noble man of trust. I was also fascinated how the key flew into the tailor's daughter's hand. It didn't look like it was thrown into her hand as it was directly into the palm of her hand and yet no elastic could be seen and added to the magic. He also used projected images at the beginning and before and after the break, this consisted of the word "whispers" in Welsh and English, running across the front drape. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even though I am not a fluent Welsh speaker I fully understood the play as accompanied by the Welsh speaking there were actions or a following sentence in English would clearly suggest the meaning of the Welsh sentence. As well as the script being bilingual the songs were too. At the same time both the languages sung the same song. The languages over lapped but you could still hear each word crystal clear. This was very powerful as the words intertwined with each other and sometimes you ended up with only the Welsh speakers singing or vice versa. This mix of Welsh and English echoed the mix of mortals and faeries showing how both could work in harmony together. Most of the dances were inspired by an American step-dance, almost line dance like known as Appalachian. The music was inspired by all sorts of music around the world and played by lots of different musical instruments around the world including harps and sitars to mention a few. Again enhancing the theme of tolerance and embracing diversity of cultures and people. Overall I thought that the play was fantastic on all levels. No one that I was aware of was late for their cue, and all scene changes were very smooth and slick. The costumes were astonishing and a range of contrasting characters all came together to make the most magical, heart warming (and wrenching) and most enlightening show I have ever seen. If I had the chance to go and see it again I would definitely say yes! ...read more.

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