Saturday, 30 June 2012

Sherman Swingers

No, Sherman Cymru hasn't started a swing band or swing dance classes (although both would be fun), they really are throwing a swingers party. On Friday 20 July, random pairings, created through the age-old method of keys in a bowl, will be spending the night together, but instead of bodily fluids these party-goers will be sharing ideas as they put together a new piece of theatre. They will then have less than two days to perfect their work, before presenting them to the public on Sunday afternoon.

Twenty writers (including BAFTA-winning Helen Griffin who I recently interviewed), ten directors and over forty actors will be involved, representing some of the best Welsh talent. Not only is this a one-off chance to experience these unique collaborations, it's also a rare opportunity to see the underbelly of Sherman Cymru, beyond the theatres. Each of the works will be written specifically for an area of the building other than the usual performance spaces, again chosen at random through the key bowl.  Having visited the dressing rooms, the wardrobe cupboard, the electricians' lair and so on during the Sherman Cymru Open House I'm very intrigued by what the teams will come up with to fill these spaces. The works will be presented in two tours around the building, each one lasting roughly an hour.

For tickets and a full list of the writers and directors involved see here.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Preparing King Lear for Edinburgh Fringe

Trained astrophysicist Piers Horner is now dealing with stars of a very different kind, those of Act One, as he prepares their production of King Lear for Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I pulled him away from his busy schedule to discuss what it takes to get a production to Edinburgh and how this King Lear has changed since its Cardiff première

Act One's dystopian take on King Lear made its début to critical acclaim at the Cardiff YMCA in February (read my original review here). Now, thanks to funding from the Students Union, it's off to a much more exciting venue at the Edinburgh Fringe, but not without a few changes. In case you missed it earlier this year, this is a King Lear for a modern audience, set in the aftermath of nuclear war, as rival gangs vie for power. What impressed me most about the original production was that it was thoroughly gripping, modern, and relevant, while retaining Shakespearian language. Key to the show's success is the incredible set design by Horner - graffiti-covered, dark and menacing - and music by Nick Cotton, a haunting blend of classical and contemporary, which both compliment the sense of foreboding and accentuated violence of the piece. As the stage in Edinburgh will be thrust instead of proscenium, dark corners and extremely graphic fight scenes will be more of a challenge, but one that Act One certainly won't shy away from!

A more arduous task will be cutting King Lear down to just an hour and 15 minutes - the time allotted by the venue. The February version felt succinct at about two hours, especially given how much happens in Shakespeare's original Lear. Many hours of rewrites by Horner and co-director Madison Fowler have been needed to make the play coherent with so much cut out, but the end result is a pacey Lear sure to attract new audiences, perhaps otherwise put off by the imposing length of the original play. 
Lear (James Davies) gets angry
As any student knows, May and June is probably the worst time to have any other commitments, what with final essays, exams and then preparing to move out for the summer. It's certainly not ideal for putting together a play for Edinburgh. Act One, however, are an industrious bunch and won't let a little thing like getting a degree get in the way of preparing to take Edinburgh by storm. They have been beavering away on their futuristic King Lear, culminating in a week long 'Lear Camp'. From practising projection in the park to make-up sessions, every aspect of Lear must be worked out before the cast go their separate ways for the summer. Characterisation has always been of utmost importance for the cast and creators of this production, and the focus of intense work during Lear Camp. For Horner, it is imperative that the characters suit both the actors and the dystopian setting. In the original production, the Cornwall just wasn't quite right, so he has now metamorphosed from a thug to a sharp, sexual sadist. Within the context of the production, I'm sure this will make for a much more engaging character. Sadly Oliver Ferriman, who was so impressive as Edgar, has prior commitments preventing him from going to Edinburgh. Edgar has therefore been reworked to suit Nick McAndrew who takes Ferriman's place - instead of an intensely physical, feral Edgar, McAndrew will bring out the vulnerable side of the character.

Emily Barden gets made up
When they get to Edinburgh, the will have just one day to get set up in the theatre before performing to the demanding Fringe crowd. It's not just any theatre that King Lear is going in to either, but the Monkey House, part of the prestigious Zoo. It's a location any Edinburgh Fringe play would dream of. I'm a complete novice when it comes to how Fringe works, so Piers explained to me that there is no central booking system, rather you contact each venue individually and hope for the best. Having asked for a 60-seat venue for their five-day run, Act One were instead offered a 90-seater, a clear indication that Zoo believe King Lear can draw a crowd. Back in February, it was already a bold and exciting piece. Now with all the extra work of Lear Camp and the added spark of being in Edinburgh, I'm sure it will be a real treat for any festival-goer.

Cambridge (James Paine) and Gloucester (Dom Gwyther) get gory
King Lear is showing from 12-18 August at 12:15 in Monkey House, Zoo (full details and tickets at here). Act One are also bringing two other productions to Edinburgh:
Wuthering Heights, 13-18, 21:05, the Space on the Mile (tickets), and The Institute, 13-19, 12:45, The Fiddler's Elbow (tickets).

Photos courtesy of Ségolène Scheuer who plays Goneril.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Happy 1st Birthday RWCMD!

One year ago today, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama first opened its doors. Since then, the breathtaking new building has revolutionised the way the College operates, seen 60,000 tickets sold, won four prestigious RIBA awards and even impressed Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber. All of these achievements culminate tonight in a spectacular celebration of the RWCMD's first birthday.

My imaginary birthday cake for the RWCMD
Tonight's event showcased the incredible wealth of talent at the RWCMD. Regular readers will know I'm no stranger to the college, but I've only ever seen the drama, musical theatre and opera students perform. This birthday extravaganza gave me a chance to enjoy the exceptional talents of the music students too, in a performance that celebrated the diversity offered by the college. Starting with a pre-show performance of Unruly Women by the opera students (arias from the bad girls of opera), the evening blended percussion, brass, students from the conservatoire, musical theatre and drama. Musical highlights of the evening were Tianhong Yong on piano (who moved her fingers so quickly I could barely keep up with her!) and William Percy on cello. As for drama, Rebecca Newman and Dafydd Llys Thomas' monologues got everyone laughing from the start (you can watch them here, as well as the other students' monologues). A real treat was Alexander Griffin-Griffiths and Isabella Marshall's dark and compelling excerpt from Richard III which felt wholly professional. Finally, interspersed throughout the evening were excerpts from Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood. This must be a very special piece for the students, as they first performed it this time last year, as the new building was unveiled. They were only second years then and now they are about to graduate and prove to the world what skilled actors they have become. The comedy of the piece really suited the students, who regaled us with a variety of funny accents and facial expressions - perfect for this joyous celebration!

After the performance came champagne, cake, singing of Happy Birthday and speeches. Of course the students and staff were thanked for their dedication, as well as David & Philippa Seligman, without whom tonight wouldn't have been possible. Having only moved to Cardiff when the building was already in action I had no idea just how much the new facilities had revitalised the College, allowing the students to finally all study together on the same campus and rehearse and perform in industry standard locations. The building has also allowed the creation of the MA Musical Theatre, which is going from strength to strength (their next performance is Closer Than Ever, 3-7 July)


In his speech, Welsh Minister for Education and Skills Leighton Andrews admitted he had only been to the RWCMD three times, and was seeing the students perform for the first time tonight. All I can say is that he has missed out. Tonight's event once again proved that the Royal Welsh College is brimming with talent, and will continue to get bigger and better in its second year.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Booked Out + Q+A with Bryan O'Neil and Mirren Burke

Booked Out is the début film from Bryan O'Neil. When I say début, I mean it - Bryan has never even made a short before. In the Q+A that followed the screening of his sweet, indie picture at Chapter last night, O'Neil said that if making a decent short would take a year of his life, why not take three and make a proper feature instead. Seems logical enough! You would never have guessed that O'Neil was a newcomer though, as you can see from this trailer.

O'Neil doesn't like to call the film the story of three lonely people who find that together they can be happy. I don't see why, as to me it seems a great premise for an engaging, character-driven film. The story revolves around Ailidh (Mirren Burke), an artist who creates and illustrates stories based on her unconventional neighbours. One of those neighbours is Mrs Nicholls (veteran character actress Slyvia Syms) who is in denial about husband's death, and carries on as if he were still there. One day, Ailidh notices a young man frequently coming and going from the block of flats (Jacob, played by Rollo Weeks) and the two form a charming alliance, but the reason for Jacob's presence in the flat is a dark secret. O'Neil explained that he wanted to create a British version of US indie films, and that is certainly clear in the feel of the film. Booked Out is frequently whimsical, quirky and light-hearted, but this is balanced by darker moments, where the devastating effects of loneliness are portrayed in an understated but very moving way. In the end, it is an uplifting story of good people finding happiness. Not exactly ground-breaking, but sometimes just what you need.

Photo by Claire Vaughan
I asked O'Neil whether the story had come from too much time spent spying on his own neighbours. He replied that he hadn't gone quite that far - yet! - but he did once take Polaroids of someone he found interesting out of his window, just as Ailidh does. Instead, the main impulse behind the story was a desire to present an interesting, strong female character, as he finds these are lacking in too many films (Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency would be pleased). I was surprised that during the Q+A Mirren Burke admitted that she had constantly doubted herself during the filming of what is also a début for her. She has been praised by critics for her portrayal of Ailidh - so full of warmth and charm - and often called one of the main attractions of Booked Out, so she has nothing to worry about!

After the Q+A, I was given a book as a treat for having asked a question - Jeffrey Brown's Any Easy Intimacy. This graphic novel has nothing to do with the film, but it's one of O'Neil's favourites and he wanted to share it. I read it all in one night, it's a bitter-sweet story of a failed relationship told in fragments. 

The evening ended with some hypnotising music from Colorama. All in all, a very pleasant evening. Many thanks to Claire Vaughan from Chapter and Amy from See Monkey Do Monkey for putting it all together.

Cape Town Opera: Mandela Trilogy

The key stages of Nelson Mandela's life - leaving his tribe, leading the revolt against Apartheid in the townships, and imprisonment - might sound like an unlikely subject for song and dance, but the Cape Town Opera's magnificent production perfectly blended the personal and the political, the hardship and the joy to create a captivating, rousing and ultimately uplifting theatrical experience.

Cape Town Opera, the leading performing arts company in South Africa, first created the Mandela Trilogy in 2010. Having recently signed a three year co-operation agreement with the Wales Millennium Centre, they are celebrating by bringing the trilogy to Cardiff for its European première. With a cast of over 40 and the participation of the Welsh National Opera orchestra, this is a spectacular treat for opera fans.

The Mandela Trilogy is written and directed by Michael Williams. Unusually, the music is from three different composers, one for each section. Allan Stephenson matches traditional African rhythms to the scenes of the young Mandela in his home village; Mike Campbell brings to life the vibrant 1950s township life through jazz and Péter Louis van Dijk soundtracks Mandela's imprisonment and eventual release with a more conventional contemporary opera score. Nonetheless, there is a sense of continuity throughout, and the music is consistently impressive. I spoke to Williams after the performance about the thinking behind having three composers. He explained that it is extremely difficult for a single composer to keep the audience interested for two hours, and joked 'There's only one man who can do that and his name's Mozart'. In my opinion, the three parts are set in such distinct locations, requiring such different styles of music, that they needed the complementary skills of separate composers. This is mirrored by three different actors playing Mandela at each stage of his life.

The first part of the trilogy is sung in the local language of Mandela's tribe. There are surtitles, but the music and the performances are so expressive that you don't need to know the words to understand what is happening. The beginning of the show is completely joyous, full of colour, energy and traditional dancing, as the tribe celebrate their brave young men. However, they soon turn serious, decrying their lack of rights in their own land in an incredibly rousing scene. Shortly after, we see the political awakening of the young Mandela, who decides he must leave his village and fight for equal rights, in a particularly powerful, stripped back solo.

Part two then focuses on Mandela's time in the townships at the outset of Apartheid. He has been banned from public speeches, but this does not stop him addressing the people with a message of hope. You can't help but be swept up in the stirring music and performances. At this point you realise why Mandela is such an excellent choice of character for an opera.

No depiction of the 1950s would be complete without a high energy Jazz Club scene. I was blown away by the dancing in these extremely vibrant scenes which made me think that if oppression could be overcome simply by being incredibly cool South Africa would have had no problems at all.

Unusually for an opera, Mandela Trilogy has some extremely catchy tunes; none more so than Freedom in Our Time, which is still stuck in my head now. At the same time, there are more quietly powerful moments like Winning Hearts and Minds - where the three women in Mandela's life sing of how the cause keeps him away from them - which gave me goosebumps. As the fun violently comes to an end, with the forcible removal of the people from the township, the beautiful singing and staging create a haunting scene.

The third part, featuring Mandela's trial, imprisonment and eventual release, has a shift in tone to serious and dramatic. High-octane song and dance is replaced with more austere, contemplatory scenes. One particularly heartbreaking moment is when Mandela almost loses faith, only to be consoled by the voices of the people willing him on. It is in this final part that the incredible acting skill of the cast really comes to the fore.

As Mandela is finally released and takes his place as leader of the people of South Africa, you can't help but be swept up in the excitement. Mandela is one of the most iconic personalities of our time, so we all know how the story is going to end, and yet you're so absorbed in the lives of these characters that the ending feels unexpected and uplifting.

For large parts of the show, I had a huge smile stuck on my face, which is not what I expected from an opera about fighting oppression and imprisonment. For other parts, I was completely engrossed and deeply moved by the personal lives of those so often in the headlines for political reasons. Mandela Trilogy has it all; the story, an incredibly talented cast, electrifying dancing, vibrant costumes and sets, but above all, the music. The music which is constantly changing and yet always of the utmost quality. With never a dull moment, Mandela Trilogy is truly unmissable.

Cape Town Opera: Mandela Trilogy is showing at the Wales Millennium Centre on 20-21 June 2012. Tickets are available here. Their production of Porgy & Bess, set in Soweto, is then showing from 23-24 June, before continuing its UK tour.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Literary tourism - visiting bookshops and literary locations

Having spent most of the day reading travel literature theory for my dissertation, I then moved on to an article in this month's Bibliomula about travel for literature.The article by Pino (@bobbylechuga) discussed both bookshops as tourist attractions and the practice of visiting places made famous through literature. In response, I thought I'd share a few of my own.

Firstly, bookshops. Pino's list of bookshops turned tourist attractions unsurprisingly contained Shakespeare and Co. Having featured in both Before Sunset and Midnight in Paris, it has become one of the most famous bookshops in the world. A hang-out for the Beat Generation in the 60s, it remains a haven for writers and bibliophiles alike, a place to read (obviously) but also take tea, write and even sleep (there are 13 beds above the shop). In the shadow of Notre Dame and on the Left Bank of the Seine, it's also perfectly located for tourists.

While I lived in Paris, I visited Shakespeare and Co - how could I not? I enjoyed nosing around the densely packed shelves and overhearing customers discussing the different books on offer. I also used to pass by at night quite often and was always intrigued by the lock-ins which seemed to frequently occur. However, as interesting as Shakespeare and Co is as a tourist spot, it is far from my favourite bookshop in Paris. In my mind, there is no greater bookshop in the world, let alone Paris, than Gibert Jeune. I say shop, but actually there are nine shops, all in the same area around Place St Michel, with more books than you could ever imagine on the most diverse range of subjects. Located just fifteen minutes walk from where I lived, it was a horrible temptation and parted me from hundreds of euros over the course of ten months. My favourite part of Gibert Jeune is the top floor of the main building on Boulevard St Michel, where new and second hand French novels - from the classics to contemporary - were piled high for one or two euros each. I left Paris with boxes full of them - lucky I didn't have to fly them home (thanks Dad)! If you love books and bargains and you find yourself in Paris, schedule a few hours to explore this literary Aladdin's cave.

I think I just like being surrounded by lots of books, the more the better, as the other bookshop I would (and did) specifically travel to is Powell's City of Books, the world's largest independent bookstore. Powell's takes up an entire city block of the Pearl Disctrict of Portland, Oregon and is so big that you're given a map when you enter to find your way around.

I decided to visit Portland on my trip around the northern states originally because there's a great music scene, led by The Decemberists. When I started researching the city, two attractions there quickly became some of my most anticipated visits of the trip: Voodoo Donut (honestly worth going all the way to Portland for) and Powell's City of Books. As with Gibert Jeune, it was amazing to be surrounded by so many books on all possible subjects. Unfortunately backpacking isn't conducive to buying lots of books, but I had a very happy time browsing, reading covers and making a nice long list of books to later acquire (one on my Kindle there and then: Mike McIntyre's The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America). Definitely worth a visit if you ever find yourself in the Pacific North West.

As for visiting places from books, I'm always excited to be somewhere that featured in one of my favourite reads. As an Austen fan, I loved being at university in Bath and imagining Catherine Moreland and Henry Tilney strolling through the same streets that I passed every day. I was really excited about visiting Stonehenge for the first time, hoping to pretend I was Tess Durbeyfield (and then bitterly disappointed that you can't go anywhere near the stones). Most memorably, while travelling in northern Spain I made a literature inspired detour to Huesca. In George Orwell's Homage To Catalonia he explains that during the Spanish Civil War they would say every day "Tomorrow we'll have coffee in Huesca": the small town in rural Aragon was occupied by Franco's troops, so it was a small way of maintaining faith in an eventual victory which never came. Orwell swore that when Spain was finally free of Franco's dictatorship he would have coffee in Huesca, but sadly died long before this was possible, so I went and drank a coffee in his honour.

What about you? What bookshops would you go out of your way to visit? Where have you visited because it's the location of a story? Comment with your recommendations!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Spike Island Gallery, Bristol

As well as graffiti spotting, we decided to check out some more free art of the indoors kind in Bristol over the weekend, which led us to Spike Island, just around the harbour from the SS Great Britain. Spike Island is a contemporary art space which hosts visiting exhibitions as well as work-space for artists.

The first exhibition we saw was the summer show of the Fine Art students from UWE (University of West England). Mainly a mixture of objets trouvés, video art, and piles of junk (literally), a lot of the work didn't seem like it took much talent to devise or make. I'm not a huge fan of art that's controversial for the sake of it, or trying to fool you into thinking it's better than it is, so we quickly moved on.

UWE students working in the Spike Island studios
Next up was an exhibition of artists' postcards (showing until Sunday 17 June). "Artists' postcards" was taken very loosely, meaning everything from holiday postcards sent by artists to postcards of artists' works; traditional photography, Dada, Fluxus, poetry, cartoons and more. All of the works exhibited came from the personal collection of writer and novelist Jeremy Cooper who has just released Artists' Postcards: A Compendium.

One of my favourites was this David Shrigley drawing mocking Damien Hirst, called Brilliant.

Apparently saving the best til last, we came to Crepe Suzette, the first UK solo exhibition by Daniel Drewar and Grégory Gicquel (also running until 17 June). The main attraction of this exhibition is a range of stop-motion animations which depict clay sculptures in various states from lumps of clay to fully formed figures, all shot out in natural locations (lakes, forests etc), creating a commentary on the ephemeral nature of art. My favourite video was one in which clay legs seemed to dance across the screen, as they kept being made, destroyed and remade along the lump of clay - putting some fun back into sculpture!

Sherman Cymru camper van for sale

Regular readers will know that since Sherman Cymru reopened in February, it's become a bit of a second home for me. But before the £6.5million refurbishment was revealed, there was the camper van. This eye-catching vehicle toured Wales for two years, drumming up publicity and funding and keeping the name of the company in the public imagination. Now it could be yours, as Sherman Cymru are putting their van up for sale on eBay.

This is no ordinary camper van. Originally imported from Africa, this 25 year old vehicle has been beautifully restored with a reconditioned engine. In that quarter of a century, the van must surely have had an exciting life, and has now become a small part of theatre history. Since 2010, it helped to keep Sherman Cymru producing while their building was being beautified, by taking productions to other theatres and unusual locations throughout Wales.

Now that the theatre is back in business, the camper van needs a new loving home. So from Sunday 17 June, for 7 days, the camper van will be auctioned on eBay ( with a reserve of £9,000. The Sherman Cymru branding will be removed before the sale, but the van will still be bright pink. So if you want an eye-catching vehicle with a fascinating history, get bidding!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

See No Evil @ Nelson Street, Bristol

Bristol has become well known as one of the best places for street art in the country (as we learnt from The Apprentice) and See No Evil is a permanent celebration of graffiti as art in the heart of the city. Until just under a year ago, Nelson Street was just a boring corner of the city centre, but since August 2011 it has become a canvas for emerging talent, flooding the area with vibrant colour. The works are frequently painted over, so catch them while you can!

We loved the facial expressions on these vegetables!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Roath State of Mind @ Waterloo Gardens Teahouse

So as I said yesterday, today I went to see the Roath State of Mind exhibition at Waterloo Gardens Teahouse.

Exhibition is perhaps an overstatement. It's a collection of photos on the walls, like the one below. To accompany these are laminated stories of ordinary people from Roath and their experiences of living in the area. This hyperlocal project is part of the wider We Are Cardiff, which brings together portraits of people from all over the city. The idea behind the project was to counteract the bad press that Cardiff was getting as Britain's premier binge-drinking hot-spot.

While there aren't that many pictures up in the exhibition, and you can read the stories online, I recommend a trip to the Waterloo Gardens Teahouse anyway. The selection of tea is amazing - although not great for the indecisive! We had a lychee infused oolong tea and a delicious sweet potato cake (like carrot cake, but nicer) and the staff were incredibly friendly and helpful (we really needed a tea expert to help us decide!). Then as you're enjoying your tasty tea you can read about the exciting experiences of our fellow Cardiffians. 

The exhibition runs until 2 July 2012.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Suzanne Carpenter Illustration

I was just looking up the Waterloo Gardens Teahouse in Cardiff as I plan to visit the Roath State of Mind Exhibition organised by We Are Cardiff. Anyway, on their website there was information about previous exhibitions, and one of them jumped out at me: Cardiff/Caerleon based digital illustrator, Suzanne Carpenter. I love skulls and bright colours, so I couldn't help but be drawn to her Mexican Day of the Dead inspired designs, and thought I'd share some here.

Greetings cards and wrapping paper, available here

Suzanne does lots beside skulls, including gift wrap and cards (mainly aimed at children). See more on her website: or her Flickr.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Matthew Bourne's Early Adventures: Review

As Matthew Bourne celebrates the 25th anniversary of his company New Adventures, he has revived three of the earliest works to win him acclaimSpitfireTown and Country and The Infernal Galop, creating the triple-bill Early Adventures. This a rare chance to experience the birth of Bourne's iconic style which for a quarter of a century now has been redefining the possibilities of dance. At the heart of all three pieces is a drive to turn the unexpected into dance. Bourne has a unique talent for spotting and building upon the choreography in unlikely actions, such as being washed, dried and dressed by a servant. When I interviewed Matthew Bourne (listen to the whole conversation here) I asked if he was reacting against the common perception of dance as sweet and fluffy. He agreed, explaining that there's nothing wrong with sweet and fluffy but dance can be so much more. Early Adventures is at turns erotic, playful and deeply comic, proving just how versatile dance can be.

Spitfire (1988), subtitled "An advertisement divertissement", transfers a traditional ballet soundtrack to a male underwear advert,  full of posturing and bravado. Bourne's appreciation of the male form is nowhere more evident, but Spitfire is also an extremely funny piece. Bourne insists that he makes theatre, not dance, and so the facial expressions of the characters tell just as much of a story as their bodies, with each model desperate to be the most desired. 

Town & Country (1991) was the first piece for which New Adventures were nominated for an Olivier Award, and my favourite of the three. A series of vignettes, often bursting with irony, present typical scenes from the contrasting areas. Town ranges from a homage to Brief Encounter to a stunning scooter number (I was amazed they could balance so well at such a pace). Country, on the other hand, encompasses clog dancing, cow milking, fox hunting and some incredibly cute, scene-stealing puppets. While most of the pieces are incredibly funny, the tone suddenly changes to beautiful, moving pieces, which prove that from the beginning Bourne was an all-round talent.

The Infernal Galop (1989), "A French dance with English subtitles", features French icons from La Marseillaise and the Can-Can to Edith Piaf. Mocking French stereotypes, especially passionate romance, the choreography always tells a story and often makes you laugh out loud.  

"The productions and cast numbers might have got bigger over the years, but I'd like to think that desire to make people laugh and cry and to give audiences a great night out was there right from the very beginning" - Matthew Bourne, programme notes.

Watching Early Adventures, you have to agree with Bourne. From this highly entertaining piece, the origins of his iconic style are very clear, yet Early Adventures does not pale in comparison with his latter enormous successes. While they are older than me, these early pieces still seem so fresh and original - like all of Bourne's ground-breaking work, they retain a timeless quality. Bourne's undeniable talent as a choreographer and director is only enhanced by the supremely talented cast, who can not only dance with enviable skill, but also bring so much energy and character to their performance. If you've ever been put off dance because you think it's staid and dull, let Matthew Bourne and his Early Adventures prove you wrong.

Early Adventures is at Sherman Cymru until 6 June, then continues touring. Full details at or @early_adventures on Twitter.