Taliesin Performances - Caitlin
Light Ladd & Emberton presents
Directed by Deborah Light
Devised with and performed by Eddie Ladd and Gwyn Emberton
Caitlin was the wife of poet Dylan Thomas. At the start of the 70’s, 20 years after he died, she started going to Alcoholics Anonymous.
In a circle of chairs, set out for an AA meeting Caitlin makes a determined effort to deal with her tempestuous past.
The audience sits in the circle with Caitlin as she re- visits her life with Dylan. It is a relationship fuelled by love, addiction, jealousy and infidelity. As Caitlin and Dylan drink, fight, love and leave each other the unoccupied chairs become part of the action in this physical and powerful duet.
“This show defied anyone from not being captivated, totally engrossed and at times shocked with its veracity” Wales Theatre Awards 2015
Best Dance Production, Wales Theatre Awards 2015.
Dates and Times:
Thu 4th May
6pm & 8pm
|Full price:||£ 12|
|Under 18's:||£ 10|
|Full time students:||£ 10|
|Other Conc.:||£ 10|
Caitlin (★★★★☆) is harrowing physical theatre/dance, a brilliant and overwhelming enactment by Eddie Ladd and Gwyn Emerton of the effects of alcoholism, the life-in-death of Dylan Thomas and his wife, Caitlin. A poet famous for his extraordinary use of language, Dylan is reduced to mouth-popping. The couple fall, writhe and roll on top of each other, walk into walls and become entangled in chairs which increasingly symbolise their helplessness but despite it all, their love for each other. The electronic soundtrack, played live by Sion Orgon sampling tracks from the band Thighpaulsandra, adds to the visceral experience. A Must See show, but only if you are feeling strong enough to take it.
**** DANCE REVIEW
“He was a famous poet…I was going to be a professional dancer. I was going to be a very professional dancer.” -the prosaic rhetoric of ‘Caitlin’, wife of Dylan Thomas in this dance interpretation by Light, Ladd and Emberton. One might assume she has developed a hatred for words, most specifically her husband’s words. There is none of the lyrical beauty of Thomas’ poetry -this is Caitlin’s story, told through the poetry of her body.
Caitlin is the forgotten wife of a talented and celebrated man. Although talented in her own right, hers is a life lived in the shadows. It’s a tale as old as time and painfully familiar to many women. The story follows Caitlin’s experience in group therapy as she reflects upon her relationship to Dylan Thomas, her post-natal depression and addiction to drink. The dynamic aspect of this production is that we the audience, willingly or unwillingly, form the AA group circle around which the performance takes place.
Light, Ladd and Emberton interpret Caitlin as a powerful, passionate and embittered woman. The two-handed performance is played out with great physicality. It is raw, visceral and at times, downright vulgar. Grungy sounds, ear- splitting white noise, frenetic movement and the most creative use of the folding chair I have ever seen. If you thought you had given up your evening for a bunch of pissheads, you could have been right. But there is much more happening in this intensely charged psychological space. The Caitlin-Dylan relationship is volatile to say the least. Beset with the challenges of adulteries, mental illness and the strain of family life, Caitlin is often alone as her husband becomes increasingly famous in New York. The angry Caitlin reduces her husband to a miserable, drivelling nothingness. He rests his head listlessly on her lap, crawls about the floor like a baby and buries her with much hated scripts that she stuffs back in his mouth. Dylan Thomas is altogether silenced. His attempts to engage an audience amount to the futility of sucking air.
Caitlin carries out her maternal duties with regimented coldness. At times I wanted her to be more ‘maternal’ and dare I say ‘feminine’. And then I had to question my own ideas about what ‘feminine’ actually is. We have media-fed ideas about femininity don’t we. Who defines femininity anyway? Sometimes, I don’t think it is women. Caitlin shows us another take on gender and it’s refreshing. Aspects of this production were deeply cathartic for me. I know what it’s like to lose your life to motherhood. Perhaps I’m not brave enough to slam chairs around like Caitlin, but I’m certainly glad that she did. There is a frenzied energy about this production that is utterly gripping. I look forward to seeing more from this first class dance duo.
(c) Sarah Dosomah 2014
Eddie Ladd and Gwyn Emberton are back on tour in this winner of the Best Dance Production in Wales Theatre Awards 2015, directed by Deborah Light.
Dylan Thomas and wife Caitlin explore their inner anti-hero in this intimate dance production.
The year is 1973. Within a circle of chairs, 60-year-old Caitlin Thomas is confronting head on her drink-addled and destructive marriage to the poet Dylan.
Twenty audience members sit open-mouthed in this uncomfortable but compulsive AA meeting as tumultuous scenes from a 16 year relationship fuelled by love, addiction, jealousy and infidelity begin to flood out of her.
“Hello my name is Caitlin and I’m an alcoholic,” she introduces herself.
A woman of few words – her husband had all the words – she nevertheless continues: “My husband was a very famous poet. I was going to be a very famous dancer. We were supposed to be equal but it wasn’t like that.”
As Caitlin and Dylan drink, fight, love and leave each other, the unoccupied chairs come into their own as the significant objects of their lives: a baby’s crib, a highchair, a straightjacket and Dylan’s deathbed. The duelling duo find themselves on all fours, flat on their backs, buried under a tottering pile of folding chairs and manuscripts and perhaps most disturbingly, him staggering around with her wrapped about his head.
The dischordant soundtrack (empty, eerie, tolling bells, lots of screeching feedback) is written by experimental Welsh musician Thighpaulsandra and live manipulated by Siôn Orgon.
Caitlin and Dylan are a prototype Sid and Nancy – or Kurt and Courtney. Two creative people bound together by love and addiction, living out their chaotic private lives for all to see. Both switch seamlessly between self-obsessive introversion and manic exhibitionism.
Writing in her 1982 autobiography, Caitlin recounts: “Ours was not a love story proper. It was more of a drink story. In those long-ago…absolutely unpardonable days, our primary aim was to get ourselves noticed at any cost… So we used shock tactics. We knew only too well that is much easier and quicker to get oneself noticed in a bad light."
CAITLIN was commissioned by the National Library of Wales as part of 2014’s centenary celebration of Dylan Thomas’ birth. Supported by Arts Council of Wales.
Comisiwn gan Lyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru ar gyfer DT100 (2014). Cefnogwyd gan Gyngor Celfyddydau Cymru.
Caitlin: Eddie Ladd
Dylan: Gwyn Emberton
Direction/ Cyfarwyddyd: Deborah Light
Choreography/ Coreograffi: Light, Ladd & Emberton
Sound/ Sain: Siôn Orgon
Soundscore/ Sgôr: Thighpaulsandra
Costumes/ Gwisgoedd: Neil Davies
Images/ Lluniau: Warren Orchard
Producer/ Cynhyrychydd: Laura H Drane Associates