Saturday, 24 February 2007

Welsh Cinema of the Grotesque, Theatre of the Absurd, or Both?

"Put together an ageing petty criminal, his Mam and two teenage tearaways and what have you got?"
Why, it's BBC High Hopes: Grotesque, Absurd, Surreal and full of fictive truth.

In 1972 we had a crusty black junk dealer in the L.A. Watts ghetto, played by Red Foxx, called Sanford & Son, which was a re-make of the British Steptoe & Son. Now Welsh comic writer and actor Boyd Clack has created the bizarre, surreal world of High Hopes.

The post-Industrial Welsh Valleys are chronically impoverished and trapped in parallel cycles of systemic malaise (bureaucratic grotesque) and familial dysfunction (familial grotesque). This is the setting for Boyd's quirky flirt with the every-day weirdo's in his comedies -- Similar to the lovable but bizarre folks who populate the BBC comedy 'Shameless.'

Boyd gives us so many manifestations of the filmic grotesque in one show that the mind boggles! The psychological grotesque can be found in his agoraphobic, criminal protagonist. The nervous, chapel, church lady mother is another exaggerated (but true) rendering of the naive, gracious, accommodating, co-dependent and passive-aggressively dominant Mam.

Boyd's parody of the local Heddlu/Police is like Peter Sellers' kooky Pink Panther Inspecteur Couseau, but these bumbling Welsh arbitrators of law & order are inherently wise, folkloric geniuses!

Please see: and tell me what you think . . .