After 45 years of reporting failed attempts to found a national theatre for Wales, at long last I am present at the fulfilment of that dream. And what a debut production it proves to be, heralding a year-long programme of a dozen theatrical stagings in as many locations throughout the Principality.
Aptly titled, this series of fact-based revue style sketches with a strong storyline is set firmly in those Valleys communities too often stuck in a grim exploited past but desperately yearning for a brighter future.
John E McGrath’s in-the-round staging is pacey, moody, pulling no punches. Topical, relevant, provocative, the Alan Harris script contains much poignancy with lots of laugh-out-loud one-liners and situations.
Overall, the production is an admirable example of ensemble playing. The broad characterisations and even broader accents at times veer into caricature by the all-Welsh cast of seven as they project a veritable multitude of all-too-recognisable Valleys types.
Dominating the proceedings, literally, is Con, the well-meaning man in charge, a stand-out affectionate portrayal of real depth by Boyd Clack.
The authentic club setting with its bingo, stand-up comics, talent contests and the rest, is designed by Angela Davies.
Music is provided by 4th Street Traffic, with a different local band playing at each of the four further venues in the tour.
Make no mistake – a first class start to this long overdue venture has been made. It could be a hard act to follow.