Theatre Y Byd, Marriage of Convenience

Review in Issue 9-4 | Winter 1997

Ian Rowlands’ one-man play Marriage of Convenience is an exploration of cultural identity set in Wales. Coming hot on the heels of the recent devolution referendum, Rowlands’ play beautifully illustrates the difficulty of finding a national identity in a nation where, ‘identity changes from street to street, like species in a rainforest’.

Rowlands is a superb wordsmith. His language is lyrical with a contemporary hard edge. Location and characters are summed up with humour and precision. From the butcher whose ‘fingernails always looked as if he had flesh under them’, to his vision of the mountain as ‘a carnivore who files his teeth upon the wind’, Rowlands etches the valleys into our imagination.

The script is, by far, the strongest element. A major problem for a production which is part of a festival of ‘visual’ theatre. Unfortunately, Rowlands is not a director, and both script and performer are seriously let down because of this. His staging is simplistic and repetitive. For most of the play, lines are delivered with the actor either seated or standing on the spot. Gareth Potter seems to be a capable performer, but the director’s physical imagination and fine tuning of vocal colour, which are essential to a one-man show, are missing. A wonderful opportunity, sadly missed.

Presenting Artists
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Issue 9-4
p. 23