Ceri Sherlock's final show as artistic director of the Actors Touring Company is a strikingly poetic, visually and emblematically rich telling of a myth from the Mabinogion. The basic plot of Blodeuwedd's betrayal and attempted murder of her husband Llew, and his ultimate return to revenge himself upon her and her lover, is inlaid with numerous motifs of Blodeuwedd's inhumanity (she has literally been fashioned out of flowers). She does not understand loyalty (her own or others' to her), love or even mortality.
Katherine Aughton is erratic in the title role – sometimes conveying a chilling innocent curiosity, sometimes running away with herself and becoming all nervy "alien" twitch. Jane Linz Roberts's design pits stone against metal, nature against the world of men, as the balance of power tilts forward and back. The mythic power does not grow portentous; there's nothing fey about these figures. Lewis's play, a Welsh cousin to Euripides' Medea (an alien woman struggles against a culture and a role that are fundamentally unknowable to her, with bloody consequence), is not dwarfed by the comparison.
Although its time on tour, and a short-notice cast change, have taken a toll on the original precision, it remains on the night a potentially handsome production of a beautiful play, and a needed reminder that not all British culture is English or token-Scots.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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