5 – 28 Aug Weds, Fri, Sun ONLY
“Taxidermy is the art of transformation – making the incomplete whole again”. Jakob, Val’s stern Polish taxidermist dad is hoping to fix his relationship with Vicky, Val’s feisty Welsh mum, oblivious to any hints that she doesn’t want it fixed. Ash’s stoically uncommunicative dad, Mr Tutti Frutti, is trying to conceal from his daughter the dire state of his ice cream business. Ash and Val meet at a medical research centre and have their first date in Tesco – “all roads lead to Tesco in Merthyr” – but their attempts to develop a relationship are continually scuppered by their efforts to fix things for their parents.
This is a sweetly charming story of young love in Merthyr Tydfil, raised from saccharine banality by a cracking script and an electric performance from Remy Beasley, Richard Corgan and Andy Rush: the same three actors who, earlier in the day, I saw battling monsters with birthday-gift superpowers. Once again playing in the round their lightning-fast transformation from character to character, from generation to generation, are breathtakingly impressive. The actors draw us in and involve us with their comments and asides, keeping us entranced and hugely entertained: there are many laughs and moments of great pathos – and you learn a lot about the finer points of taxidermy. We feel the awkwardness of young love and the complicated emotions of their parents; see the difficulties of communicating between generations and the deep desire everyone has to fit in, to love and be loved in return; and hope against hope that the impossibly complicated situation will somehow have a happy ending.
I don’t want to give away the plot, but its ending is, like the rest of the play, delightfully off-piste, and bids fair to rival the epic final number of the film version of Sunshine on Leith. Another full house, another audience laughing their heads off and raising the roof with their applause: another resounding success from Pains Plough. Once again, beat a path to the door – and quickly – there aren’t many performances, and tickets will sell like hot cakes!