A Regular Little Houdini, written and performed by Daniel Llewelyn-Williams, cleverly interweaves local history with the hopes and dreams of a young man.Taking on the role of a ten year-old boy through to a working man, Daniel Llewelyn-Williams maintains energy for the duration of the play. This intense monologue is comprehensively relayed, cleverly bringing the strands of the story. This is a play conveying the rich history of Newport, hand-in-hand with a young man’s journey- of family, of dreams, and of life.
For the audience, there is so much to engage in through this story. What appears first and foremost to be a tale of a young child, and the need to perfect magic. There are fantastic images created by this man and his case. Of unpicking the locks of handcuffs, escaping from the sea, conversations with family.
In this it seems the themes of family run deepest, life as a dockworker’s son in Newport.
It is in the subtleties of the story that the history of Newport unfolds. Of Houdini’s visits to Newport, to the Lyceum Theatre in 1905, to his return in 1913 when he leapt from the Newport Bridge.
And in this time the audience get to witness the lone actor grow from boy to man. Using the intricacies of word, voice and physicality.
In this time, the audience learn of Newport Dock Disaster, of the boy becoming a man.
From personal tragedy comes one which affects a community, from a community tragedy comes perspective. A Regular Little Houdini is far more than a story of magic, it is a spell which allows a character to grow on stage whilst all around him stays the same. It is the ability to bring local history to life, to embed it in a storytelling. To take words from a page and create a memory of the audience to take with them as they leave.
Because as much as looking ahead with hopes and dreams, it is the sense of perspective. It is as much what we have learned and where we are from which takes us forward.
Following its appearance at Chapter Arts Centre, A Regular Little Houdini is heading to Taliesin, Swansea (3 February), Theatr Hafren, Newtown (4 February), Torch Theatre, Milford Haven (7 February), Borough Theatre, Abergavenny (8 February), Aberystwyth Arts Centre (9 February) and Ewenny Arts Festival (6 April). For full tour details visit www.aregularlittlehoudini.co.uk
Disclosure: I was invited to Chapter Arts Centre to review this performance. All views and words contained are my own.