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WELSH actor and activist Michael Sheen brings big-name clout to online monologues Mum and Dad from Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre but the guts of the pieces is in the writing, thanks to Gary Owen, author of the superb Iphigenia in Splott.
Quite apart from the obvious advantage of having a name which describes a strategic rugby kick, Owen’s other writing credits include the dark and brutal Killology. He’s donated the two monologues to the Sherman and the struggling theatre asks only for donations to view them.
Sheen is joined by Lynn Hunter, always authentic and hugely watchable, in these near-verbatim records of stories told by Owen’s parents about their lives growing up in Pembrokeshire.
Sheen’s story, spooky and funny, is replete with vivid imagery, while Hunter’s is about a girl who discovers herself as a “horse whisperer” and the strained relationship with her dad.
The telling of these stories couldn’t have been bettered, unless I’d been sitting in Porthgain’s Sloop Inn with a pint in my hand and a Welsh collie dog at my knee — a recurring fantasy, in lockdown days.
The comrades at cuba50.org have a site stuffed with goodies, including Cuban films, online performances from the likes of singer-songwriter Eduardo Sosa and dance classes from tutors all over Britain.
There are musical offerings composed during lockdown and a track by Cuban jazz pianist and composer Roberto Fonseca is accompanied by a black-and-white video of Havana.
There are superb pieces here, old and new, and if you don’t start planning the next trip to Cuba — even as fantasy — you need to check your pulse.
Plenty of this is free, though nothing will break the bank. The feature film Yuli, the Carlos Acosta Story, costs only £4.49 and that’s with a Q&A session thrown in.
Acosta, nicknamed Yuli by his father, perfected his art at the country’s extraordinary National Dance School, going on to perform at London’s prestigious Royal Ballet. The screenplay, derived from Acosta’s autobiography, is by Paul Laverty of I, Daniel Blake fame.
Another one not to miss, especially in the light of current events, is Now. Created by Santiago Alvarez in 1965, it’s a five-minute black-and-white film about racism in the US, accompanied by the music of Lena Horne.
Featuring stock newsreel footage and a handful of still photographs brought to dynamic life by Alvarez’s signature editing style, Now is a “compelling vision of racial violence at the hands of American police officers,” the film’s blurb runs. Times certainly haven’t changed.
A general point about film-finding, especially for those of us who avoid Amazon and its baby beast Prime, is that there are alternatives out there and there’s useful info at moneysupermarket.com/broadband/streaming-services/
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