A MAPPA MUNDI | THEATR MWLDAN | CREU CYMRU CO-PRODUCTION
UK TOUR Spring 2007
Mappa Mundi Theatre Company present a rollicking new adaptation of Daniel Defoe’s classic, groundbreaking novel.
After a scandalous life of adventure, bigamy, incest and fraud, the notorious Moll Flanders finds herself in the shadow of the gallows. Her rags to riches tale reveals the cunning of a woman determined to crack the glass ceiling of Eighteenth Century society… by any means necessary! But as she confesses to her life of shame, will this moral outlaw be able to stay the hand of the executioner?
This fabulous new production has more than a hint of spice – it’s bawdy, irreverent and peppered with dark comedy. Atmospherically staged with an original score, Moll Flanders bears all the Mappa Mundi trademarks that keep audiences coming back for more.
An action-packed, riotous, downright entertaining show that’s as irresistible as Moll herself!
Mae Cwmni Theatr Mappa Mundi yn gyflwyno addasiad hwyliog newydd o nofel arloesol, clasurol Daniel Defoe.
Yn dilyn bywyd cywilyddus anturus, deuwriaeth, llosgach a thwyll, mae’r enwog Moll Flanders yn cael ei hun yng nghysgod y crocbren. Mae ei hanes carpiau i gyfoeth yn datgelu cyfrwystra gwraig sy’n benderfynol o ragori ar ei magwraeth yng nghymdeithas y Ddeunawfed Ganrif… mewn unrhyw ffordd bydd eisiau! Ond wrth iddi gyfaddef i’w bywyd cywilyddus, a all ein troseddwraig foesol ddianc rhag llaw y dienyddiwr?
Mae gan y cynhyrchiad campus newydd hwn fwy na mymryn o sbeis – mae’n anniwair, amharchus ac yn frith o gomedi tywyll. Wedi ei llwyfannu mewn modd atmosfferig gyda sgôr gwreiddiol, mae Moll Flanders yn arddangos nodweddion arferol Mappa Mundi sy’n sicrhau fod cynulleidfaoedd yn dychwelyd eto.
Sioe llawn sbort, yn reiat o ddifyrrwch llwyr sydd mor anorchfygol â Moll ei hun!
Moll Flanders gave 20 performances at 17 venues in the spring of 2007, playing to a total audience of 3585.
A jailer introduces the inhabitants of Newgate’s condemned cell, instantly putting the audience in the uncomfortable position of being 18th-century worthies come to gawp. The strength of this powerful, richly entertaining production is that, through all the bawdy comedy of Moll’s life, we can never forget the darkness lying just below the surface.
The company’s skill in switching moods, cutting off a laugh in an instant to bring chill despair into focus, is breathtaking. Laughs there are in plenty. The script is full of exquisite anachronisms, a felicitous “eagle has landed” is perfectly placed. Nor is there any shortage of bawdy, a congress on a spinet is gloriously conjured from movement and sound.
Full review is available on The Stage website
Reviewed by The Stage
Mappa Mundi has come of age
Mappa Mundi has built up a reputation as irreverent purveyors of accessible classics. Their Moliere incorporated pop lyrics, their Henry VIII had little of Shakespeare’s own words, As You Like It included some Kylie and Taming of the Shrew was an all-male take on a feminist bete-noir.
But you can forget that now. Anyone who goes to Moll Flanders hoping for a jolly, bawdy, rumbustious romp will be… Well, not disappointed, but surprised, I think. Forget heaving bosoms, ripped corsets and the other dubious attributes of modern adaptations of eighteenth-century costume dramas: this is a dark tragedy with the odd illumination of almost surreal comedy.
Yes, Mappa Mundi has come of age at last. This is the story of a resilient woman in a man’s world, one who comes bouncing back after each relentless setback (and as setbacks go you can’t get much worse than finding you’ve accidentally married your brother, for example, just one of Moll’s disastrous liaisons), told in flashback from her incarceration in Newgate goal as she awaits the inevitable gallows.
Mappa Mundi’s last shot at serious drama, Richard III, was not very successful but here, as well as offering us a harder, more challenging narrative than last year’s Canterbury Tales, Mappa Mundi creates a piece of theatre that has lots of production quality – there’s the customary attention to costume but with a good set, a pastiche score balanced by some good live singing… and, crucially, a stunning lead performance from Mali Tudno Jones.
Lynne Seymour’s direction and Keiron Self’s script is also reassuringly intelligent as it lulls us first into thinking this is the same Mappa Mundi, with lots of manic humping and broad comedy, before it lures us into the tragedy of Moll’s life.
Yes, there’s still the naughty-schoolboy irreverence and innuendo but in fact some of the risqué word-play later almost gets thrown away as Moll’s rollercoaster of a life takes on a darker edge.
The team has eschewed an overtly political theme, however, attributing Moll’s tragic life to misfortune as much as patriarchy. But perhaps Mappa Mundi is still wary of getting too serious for Moll Flanders does, despite its strengths, tend to go for instant effect rather than develop characters or raise issues.
The original 1720s material, of course, Defoe’s fashionably picaresque novel, is hardly the complex fiction into which the novel was to develop, and this adaptation doesn’t try and change the rambling episodic structure. But what this means is we have a series of sketches rather than a narrative with no real continuity or fleshed-out characters.
And we do really need to empathise with the unfortunate Moll if her final fate is to have the impact that Ms Jones’s performance deserves. For me the disconnected snapshots that constitute her life merely reinforce the idea that it was Fate rather than men that dictated her story and we are denied a deeper portrait of a remarkable fictional icon.
Moreover, while this Moll is in some ways the classic unreliable narrator (we only see her story from her point of view, of course), Keiron Self doesn’t create the distancing we need to be able to see another parallel narrative to balance against her own colourful versions of events.
Mappa Mundi has only come out to play once a year so far. Let’s hope this very successful and different incarnation of one of Wales’s most popular theatre companies, now emboldened to move on from the knockabout stereotype by the support of Theatr Mwldan, take future productions more seriously.
Reviewed by David Adams for The Western Mail
Boisterous, bold, bawdy and brilliant
Tragedy with a wink – that’s how comedy actor Kieran Self described his adaptation of Defoe’s picaresque novel Moll Flanders for the stage.
And that’s exactly what the first night audience of Mappi Mundi’s production got at Theatre Mwldan last Thursday.
The production zipped along at a bodice-rip roaring pace, using flash backs and clever use of stage scenery to set the various scenes of Moll’s colourful life.
Mali Tudno Jones was outstanding as Moll, and backed by a superb supporting cast who changed roles as quick as their costumes.
From the grimy depths of Newgate jail to a ship setting sail for the colonies, the actors took the audience on a journey that was boisterous, bold, bawdy and brilliant.
But the tragedy was always there in the wink – sometimes shockingly so.
Scenes of public hanging and a nasty gang rape were portrayed as part of the action and underlined the degenerate morality and baseness that was very much part of 18th century life.
Moll Flanders is now on tour throughout Wales.
Reviewed by Sue Lewis for Tivyside Advertiser
A Musical Romp based on the original novel by Daniel Defoe.
Most certainly a pacey noisy romp and the capacity audience in the Sherman Arena all came out slapping their thighs in the interval. This was a fine example of this young robust ensemble company’s work. A lively and loud opening number assured the audience that they were in for a good time as the sixty plus years of the rumbustious life of Moll Flanders all rapidly revealed to us in the space of two hours.
The sad state of life for the lower classes in 18th Century England hits us right at the beginning in Newgate prison, which is also where the story ends. Elizabeth Wright, a role to which Jessica Sandry cleverly brings both a good touch of sensitivity as well as a twinkle in her eye, can only be saved from the gallows if she becomes pregnant. This she achieves right before our very eyes! And we know the sort of night we are in for.
This pregnancy produces our heroine who eventually ends up married to her own brother. Rhian Phillips bring a quite remarkable quality to her playing of the leading role, physically increasing in size as she grows from the little girl Moll to almost old hag at the end of the play. She also has a wide-ranging and excellent singing voice with clarity of sound able to move our emotions more that once during the evening.
The clever set, with just enough fixed pieces to give us a flavour of the period, rapidly and frequently changes shape as the cast moves the scenic elements about in a well choreographed manner. We go from the prison to an elegant home, to a coach, to a sailing boat and the Roman Baths in Bath and back again with the greatest possible speed and precision.
Inevitably it is the women that stand out in the performance. Maybe it’s to do with the great uplifting bras they are all wearing! But I guess they have the most colourful stories to tell and the men are only there to grope and humiliate them. Hannah Hall completely baffled me as I was convinced that her role as Lady Constable was a totally different actress. She is most convincing and deadly as the crafty long surviving Mother Midnight.
Nick Evans (one of Steel Wasp’s founding directors), Lee Mengo, Rhodri Thomas, Gareth Jenkins and Matthew Evans all show suitable youthful vigour and lechery but it is as the older man Mister Honest that Matthew gives us his most subtle performance.
This production was a very brave departure for this young company. To stage such a complex show with the company’s limited resources is an extremely creditable professional achievement. However all that I have described above needs to be embraced with a great deal more abandonment for the play to make its best possible mark. In the early numbers the band overwhelmed the singers and the words of the ensemble songs were difficult to catch. The cast must more fully embrace the vulgarity of the piece and deeply indulge and enjoy them. Some of the rude bits were a bit embarrassing. But keep up the joy.
The company has worked closely with the School of Theatre Studies at Trinity College Carmarthen. The students and staff of the college have overseen, imagined and delivered almost all the technical elements of the production. The City and County of Swansea also have given the company good support and has provided a minibus for the actors to travel in on tour.
Further productions of the play can be seen at Aberystwyth Arts Centre September 27th – Torch Theatre Milford Haven October 1st. BLOOMSBURY THEATRE LONDON OCTOBER 2ND 3RD and at the Taliesin Theatre, Swansea October 5th 6th.
Reviewed by Michael Kelligan for Theatre In Wales Website
22 Theatr Mwldan CARDIGAN
23 Theatr Mwldan CARDIGAN
27 The Welfare YSTRADGYNLAIS
28 BLACKWOOD Miners Institute
3 Borough Theatre ABERGAVENNY
5 Theatr Colwyn COLWYN BAY
6 Theatr Gwynedd BANGOR
7 Theatr Gwynedd BANGOR
8 Coliseum ABERDARE
9 Theatr Brycheiniog BRECON
10 Theatr Hafren NEWTOWN
14 Theatr Ardudwy HARLECH
15 Beaufort Theatre EBBW VALE
16 The Grand Pavilion PORTHCAWL
20 ABERYSTWYTH Arts Centre
21 Theatr Stiwt RHOSLLANERCHRUGOG
22 Theatr y Sherman Theatre CARDIFF
23 Theatr y Sherman Theatre CARDIFF
28 Wyeside Arts Centre BUILTH WELLS
29 Taliesin Arts Centre SWANSEA