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Home / Cultural Events / Review: Arms And The Man at Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold

Review: Arms And The Man at Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold

Why DO men go to war? And why do women urge them to it?

George Bernard Shaw addressed the conundrum in 1879, and sugared the pill with a delightful romantic comedy.

This new production at Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, is directed by Emma Lucia, and with designer Mark Bailey she has created a glorious confection.

Bailey has designed a set that looks inspired by the Liberty furnishings of the day, full of kilims and candles, and the bedroom morphs cleverly into a pretty verandah, dappled with sunlight. Fabulous costumes add to the rich mix.

Set in Bulgaria at a time when the Balkans were already troublesome, the play looks at war through the eyes of the Petkoff family, and their romantic daughter Raina. Played with grace and charm by Antonia Kinley, Raina is just the sort of girl men go to war for: full of heroic fantasies about her brave fiance, Sergius, a dashing cavalry officer.

But during a confusing aftermath, a bloodied and weary Swiss mercenary, fighting on the other side, takes refuge in Raina’s room, and her certainties begin to crumble.

Daniel Hawksford is charismatic as the mercenary, Captain Bluntschii, and the chemistry between the Captain and Raina is immediate. As he brings home to her the bleak realities of warfare, and gobbles her chocolates, Raina compares him to her cavalry officer, Sergius, and the comparison is not flattering to Sergius.

Daniel Llewelyn-Williams makes the most of the pompous, stiff Sergius, with his over-the-top Hussar’s uniform and his penchant for strange limbering exercises, designed to show off his figure.

In a scene that presages Shaw’s later work, Pygmalion, the servants Louka (brilliantly played by Michelle Luther) and Nicola (another fine performance, by Simon Holland Roberts) discuss how she could achieve social mobility and capture Sergius for herself.

Raina’s father, Major Paul Petkoff, is played by the ever-reliable Robert Blythe, as a comfortable country gentleman, aware that he is a big fish in a very small pond. And his wife, Catherine, is delightfully played by Sian Howard, as an anxious, twittering Mama with delusions about the family’s status in small-town Bulgaria.

The play is full of well-honed rapiers of dialogue that strike to the heart of the matter, and the audience is embraced into collusion as the tangled web is woven. Worth seeing.

Arms And The Man is at Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold until May 24. The box office number is 0845 330 3565 or visit www.clwyd-theatr-cymru.co.uk

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