IN WATER I’M WEIGHTLESS
Western Mail/ Wales On-line
IN the centre of the stage, two actors are discussing the roles they are usually offered.
“I’m always playing zombies,” says one. “The sick and twisted psycho,” says the other. Instead, they dream of being cast as the “fish and chip customer” in EastEnders or the “waiting patient” in Holby City. For the actors – David Toole and Nick Phillips – are disabled and they’re sick of being stereotyped.
Their observations are part of a series of monologues and conversations making up National Theatre Wales’ latest production, In Water I’m Weightless. Director John E McGrath has taken the words of writer Kaite O’Reilly and transformed them into a powerful piece of theatre, shattering any stereotypes.
Staged inside the Wales Millennium Centre’s intimate Weston Studio, five disabled performers get their points across effectively through speech, music, film and both graceful and energetic movement.
During the opening scene, we’re made aware of how life can change in a matter of seconds for any one of us and just how fragile the human body is.
The monologues – which are performed in inventive ways, proving they don’t have to just be delivered from a bar stool – cover everything from growing up with a disability and strangers’ perceptions to being comfortable in your own skin.
We’re reminded that almost all of the brilliant generals were disabled, including Napoleon.
“Impairment, gives you an edge – you have to work harder.”
The performers work brilliantly together and the production, designed by Paul Clay, is slick. What’s all the more incredible is that McGrath had to completely rethink the hour-long show after cast member Mandy Colleran was forced to pull out just hours before the opening night due to injury.
In Water I’m Weightless – staged as part of London 2012 Cultural Olympiad’s Unlimited programme celebrating disability, arts, culture and sport – is a thought-provoking, beautiful piece of theatre which makes you realise that everyone is unique – and equal.
In Water I’m Weightless is at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff until Saturday. Box office: 029 2063 6464