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'The Wife of Cyncoed' - engrossing, amusing, and moving

REVIEW: The Wife of Cyncoed at Sherman Theatre


A one-woman play about the life of an ordinary, just-retired hospital administrator in the North Cardiff suburbs may not sound like the most entertaining night at the theatre. But it is!


Sure, there are days looking after the grandkids, tidying the loft, and arguing with a neighbour about the bins. But in The Wife of Cyncoed at Sherman Theatre until 23 March, there's much, much more than the mundane routine.


This is an engrossing, amusing, and often moving play with lots of laughs, some tears, plenty of dancing, and there's even sex.

For local audiences, Matt Hartley's beautifully observed script has the bonus of being 'very Cardiff' - Jayne (played by the outstanding Vivien Parry) was raised in Rumney and lived the good life in Cyncoed, before divorce took her to Lakeside.


Places have significance beyond their geography, and to Jayne (and perhaps to most of us) where people live becomes a big part of their identity. So locations beyond the city - Caerleon, London, Bilbao - hold a special significance too.


Now with time on her hands, her coming years seem well mapped out as 'Nanny Daycare', struggling to maintain her relationship with her adult children - a busy daughter living locally with her own family and a single son with his posh job in London.


But as one of her retirement cards reminds her, 'Life Begins Now' - a sentiment emphasised in large letters at the back of the otherwise bare stage. A genius touch of design (by April Dalton), lighting (Katy Morison), and sound (Sam Jones), they light up, flash, and change colour, depending on location and mood.


A chance encounter with an attractive granddad and his impressive deltoid muscles (that hospital job taught her some useful anatomy) in the playground at Roath Park Lake prompts unexpected lust, which leads to love, which leads to an exciting and scary opportunity and a huge decision to make.


Vivien Parry is absolutely captivating as Jayne - convincingly drawing us into her world and its people.


We really feel her joy, sorrow, excitement, and fears. And on press night last night (Tuesday 12 March) she received a well deserved standing ovation.

 

Directed by Hannah Noone, this is a wonderfully entertaining and sometimes moving night at the theatre. The sex and 'strong language' mean it's not for children or those offended by such things, but for anyone else, I would strongly recommend it - even if it made me aware of my inadequate deltoids!


The Wife of Cyncoed plays at Sherman Theatre until 23 March. You'll find details and ticket info here.


Review by Andy Weltch

Photos: Mark Douet



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