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February 2005
Graceland at the Burton
Coffee and cake
Coffee and cake

Graceland

Burton Taylor

23rd February 2005
SEE ALSO
Some Sort of Beautiful

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Oxford University Drama Society

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By Alison Ireland

The Burton Taylor is showing the new play Graceland, the work of Aled Roberts, as part of the 2005 prestigious New Writing Festival, which showcases the four most impressive student offerings from this annual competition.

It's an important event in the Oxford drama calendar, and includes a series of post-show discussions, in an effort to get people talking about writing.

Graceland provides a compelling snapshot of the lives of several workers in a South Wales factory, using the vehicle of their short buzzer-breaks to focus in on their chat and banter. Although only half an hour long, the audience's interest is piqued from the first and by the end they have achieved a surprising familiarity with the characters.

They have ostensibly dull lives - working, looking after children, making dinner, all with little money. But their conversation is marvellously entertaining, generating laugh after laugh.

As writer Aled Roberts says: 'The setting of the factory canteen on a night shift is the chosen vehicle to attempt to show some the intrinsic attachment of humour to monotony and stagnancy, and how a genuinely brilliant but very static joy is born out of that.'

The point of the play is perhaps to show the immense variety of the human sense of humour, and strength of the human spirit both of which shine through in even the most monotonous conditions.

Director Nanw Rowlands says: 'Ultimately, Graceland is a comedy but it is also a reality and in a sympathetic representation of these low-income workers, the audience is drawn to laugh with them and the amusement they are able to find in their own situation.' Funny, compelling and new - I look forward to seeing what Aled Roberts' future offerings will be.

The views expressed in these comments are those of the contributor's and not the BBC.

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