When talking about The Other Room, one could be forgiven for sounding like a broken record. Since its first production, now over a year ago, this tiny little pub theatre has been a revolutionary presence in Cardiff. Some of the best writers, directors and performers have come through here, solidifying the theatre as one of Wales’ best. Constellation Street takes it to an entirely new level.
The potential was there for it to be a disaster. A young playwright, building a reputation but yet to truly break out; two young directors, at the helm of their very first full-scale work; and production design that makes a small theatre space even smaller. The weight of expectation was enormous, but that expectation isn’t just met. This is, undoubtedly, The Other Room’s greatest production to date.
Matthew Bulgo’s writing is devastatingly beautiful. His four monologues are written with such a precision that its almost frightening to experience. The audience only see three of the four monologues, splitting off into groups for the first two before congregating for the final one. Each character is coping with the consequences of their actions, and each actor is mesmerising in their portrayals. As each monologue ends there is a strong sense of not having had enough, such is the power of their performances.
Not a single word or pause seems wasted – everything feels important and necessary, and this is a testament both to Bulgo’s dialogue and Chelsey Gillard and Dan Jones’ attention to detail. The two directors display a level of proficiency well beyond their experience, both with their management of the actors and their creative vision. Constellation Street doesn’t need to be a promenade piece, but it’s better because of it. The one constant in The Other Room’s history is its exceptional design and, yet again, Amy Jane Cook and the rest of the team stretch the boundaries of what they’re capable of producing. Each location is immaculately designed and lit, enhancing that hyper-realism even further.
Constellation Street works because no stone has left been unturned. From the precision of the writing to the attention to detail shown by cast and crew, everything about the play has been carefully planned. The result is an almost perfect show, and one of the most powerful pieces of fringe theatre this reviewer has ever seen.