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Theatre review: Parti Priodas

18 May 2024 5 minute read
Mark Henry Davies and Mared Llywelyn in Parti Priodas, Photo: Mark Douet

Ant Evans

Having been very well received at the National Eisteddfod last year and having had a chat with a colleague about their impressions of Parti Priodas, written by Gruffudd Owen and directed by Steffan Donnelly, I have to admit I was rather looking forward to this evening’s performance.

Judging from how busy Galeri was when I arrived, as well as the numbers in the audience, I was far from the only one!

The first thing anybody needs to know about Parti Priodas is that laughing is very much guaranteed from the start.

The stars of the show, Lowri (Mared Llywelyn) and Idris (Mark Henry Davies), had the audience in fits of laughter from the beginning as they each separately reel off how weddings might be lovely, but they’re boring.

Lowri also observes that “there’s a good chance that you’re going to make a twat of yourself…” Prophetic observation there perhaps, Lowri?

The wedding in question is that of farmer’s son Dafydd (Lowri’s brother and Idris’s best friend) and Samantha, a local Welsh speaker whose parents are originally from Preston.

Lowri’s convinced that she was only asked to be a bridesmaid out of politeness and feels noticeably awkward in the company of Samantha and the other bridesmaids, as they’re all speaking English.

Idris on the other hand, whilst invited to the wedding, isn’t Dafydd’s best man (strange, if they’re meant to be best friends, I thought) or even an usher.

There are delays all around in getting to the chapel (which Samantha’s father insists on calling a church, much to Lowri’s annoyance).

After the ceremony, Idris (who’s been taking regular drinks of vodka from a hip flask) makes something of a fool of himself by attempting to discuss Theology with the minister (who escapes at the first opportunity).

Parti Priodas Photo: Mark Douet

Things gradually go from bad to worse at the reception, between Idris’s drinking and Lowri’s increasing frustration.

Indeed, between her father’s rather awkward English only speech and him seeming to prefer Dafydd help with tasks for the following day such as mending fences, when his daughter’s more than capable of doing that herself, Lowri increasingly finds herself feeling isolated.

This is exacerbated further when Lowri overhears a bombshell of a reveal which sends her out of control, arguing with her father, who insists that he wants better for her, before things get decidedly messy.

Idris has his own demons to confront. Having come “home” from Cardiff for the wedding, he finds himself feeling rather lost, as “home doesn’t remember me” what with everyone and everything having moved on in his absence.

And he has a certain skeleton rattling around in his closet which could spell disaster for the happy couple.

Can things work themselves out for the best, not just for Dafydd and Samantha, but for Lowri and Idris?

As I alluded to earlier on, despite some serious themes being explored (loneliness, as well as linguistic and demographic tensions) there are still laughs to be had throughout here, vital in any comedy, of course.

Parti Priodas Photo: Mark Douet

Stepping away from the plot and themes, one feature of the performance which struck me was, bearing in mind there are only two performers on stage, how effortlessly Davies and Llywelyn switch between the various characters.

Slight costume changes, as well as linguistic changes when they’re required came across as effortless, which is testament to the acting abilities of both of the individuals on stage, not to mention the quality of the script.

Parti Priodas Photo: Mark Douet

I couldn’t possibly finish this review without mentioning some aspects of the production beyond the acting.

The lighting and sound take the audience from church to marquee to stables to beach. Being visually impaired, the sound in particular, from the music tracks, to the coach and horses to the seaside enhanced my enjoyment beyond the regular laughs and the acting.

And the lighting adds to the tension which was already sky high during the scene in the stable.

Parti Priodas Photo: Mark Douet

A quick note on accessibility. For non Welsh speaking audience members; the Sibrwd app, providing English language synopses (courtesy of Chis Harris) on screen, is available at each performance.

Being a Welsh speaker myself, I can’t comment further on it, but did think it worth pointing out that the play being mostly in Welsh needn’t be a barrier for those wishing to see Parti Priodas during its final performance.

I can hand on heart say I very much enjoyed every minute of it. A party not to be missed!

Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru’s tour of Parti Priodas concludes today (18 May) at Neuadd Dwyfor, Pwllheli.

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