Review: Wonderman @ Wales Millennium Centre

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You may or may not already know that this year marks the 100th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s birth in Cardiff in 1916. As such, celebrations have taken place within the city all throughout this year and to close this year off, a fantastically dedicated and talented cast of just 7 actors and musicians have been guided by the Gagglebabble Theatre Company to hold the Wonderman play.  

The production is adapted from Roald Dahl’s brilliantly themed and original short stories that have been enjoyed by adults for years in the past and will continue to do so in future. I’m sure you will be pleased to hear that the play does complete justice in how it portrays the tone of Roald Dahl’s stories as well as how enjoyable they are.

Upon arrival at the venue, you are instantly struck with the unconventional yet atmospheric layout of the performance room. Round candle-lit tables in a slightly smoke filled room mimic that of a jazz or swing club and encourages the audience to interact with one another in a charming but rarely seen way in theatre today. Then the play begins with the main character Roald Dahl emerging from the audience and the dark and somewhat disorientating plot of the performance soon starts to shine through. Dahl begins moving in and out of a warped reality and delirium as the short stories are played out in small sections of the play as surreal scenarios.

As the production progresses the undeniable talent of the three-piece jazz-style band never ceases to impress throughout and the musical skills of two female actresses are also displayed as they jump in and out of the performance’s scenes to play cello or violin.  This is truly commendable work and shows the diversity of the performers within the play. In fact, the entire production of the play is almost flawless in its use of fairly limited set design/transition and prop use with a very intuitive use of theatrical lighting also.

Everything within the performance suits the whacky yet fantastically entertaining tone of Roald Dahl’s ideas to a tee. This is down to the writers and directors’ clear understanding of Roald Dahl’s stories and ability that the performers possess to act them out as accurately as they do. The 7-piece not only display the darker side of Roald Dahl’s imaginative tales but also take the opportunity add their own splash of song, dance and humour.

Expect the unexpected…

Wonderman runs at the Wales Millennium Centre until December 24th. Book your tickets here:

*Images: Kirsten McTernan*


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