National Theatre Wales announces its tour of Feral Monster, written by Bethan Marlow, directed by Izzy Rabey and with music by Nicola T. Chang.
The cast features Lily Beau, Geraint Rhys Edwards, Carys Eleri, Rebecca Hayes, Nathaniel Leacock and Leila Navabi.
From 15 February to 22 March 2024, Feral Monster tours to Sherman Theatre in Cardiff, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Pontio in Bangor, Ffwrnes in Llanelli (Theatrau Sir Gȃr) and Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon.
Feral Monster is the story of unremarkable teen, Jax, as she/they/whatever navigates love, sexuality, identity, family and the many parts of her loud, opinionated brain.
Expelled from school and not even able to get a job at the chippy, Jax is a ‘cheeky, loveable teenage street rat’ living with her Nan in a ‘tiny, boring village’. Against a backdrop of neurons and axons singing in their head, Jax’s brain gives a running commentary on everything they do, don't do or shouldn’t do. When Jax spots Ffion coming out of the chippy, with their unapologetically loud hair and clothes, sparks fly and queer teenage lust brings together this unlikely match in all its messy, clumsy and awesome glory.
Feral Monster celebrates all teenagers by choosing to spotlight the most mundane teenager in Jax. Anyone who’s ever been a teen will see themselves in this story, as writer Bethan Marlow’s script takes us from the high highs to low lows of the hormonal rollercoaster of adolescence. Alongside identity, sexuality and family, Feral Monster explores friendship, mental health, living in rural Wales, middle-class queerness versus working-class queerness, the impact of being abandoned by parents, and second chances.
Mashing up grime, R&B, soul, pop and rap, the musical’s soundtrack brings Bethan's lyrics and characters to life. The music was collaboratively composed by Nicola T. Chang with director Izzy Rabey and actors across Wales during a research and development process. Nicola is an award-winning composer/sound designer for theatre and film, whose recent work includes acclaimed shows: For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy (Apollo Theatre West End / Royal Court Jerwood Downstairs / New Diorama) and My Neighbour Totoro (RSC / Barbican).
The creative team all identify as LGBTQIA+, including:
- writer Bethan Marlow, a Welsh theatre-maker and screenwriter focused on telling queer and female stories. Past theatre credits include Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, Theatr Clwyd, Pentabus Theatre, RSC and Sherman Theatre.
- director Izzy Rabey, also a musician and facilitator who won the Selar Award 2022 for contributions to Welsh language and culture and has worked at The Royal Court (where she was Trainee Director 2020-2021), Theatr Clwyd, Pentabus, English Touring Company and has worked in Kenya, the USA, India as well as the UK.
- set and costume designer Cara Evans’ recent work includes Sleepova at Bush Theatre and Body Show (Soho Theatre).
- lighting designer Marty Langthorne, who works within the queer and experimental worlds of theatre, dance, live art and installation. Currently working on Zoetrope by National Dance Company of Wales with Lea Anderson and recently on Dickie Beau's iShowmanism! (Theatre Royal Bath) and Remember Me (Hampstead Theatre).
- movement director Osian Meilir, a performer, movement artist and choreographer who has recently created a new work on the National Dance Company Wales as part of their 4x10 project this summer and has also been touring his own choreographic creation, QWERIN, in festivals and venues across the UK and Internationally.
- composer Nicola T. Chang (mentioned above).
- performing musical director Alex Comana, a sound artist and performer who has recently scored and co-written SCRAPER, a 6-part film for KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin and composed the soundtrack for National Theatre Wales’ The Cost of Living.
- dramaturg Jennifer Lunn, a playwright and producer whose award-winning play Es & Flo recently ran at Wales Millennium Centre and Kiln Theatre, London and who produced the award-nominated Sorter for a Grand Ambition.
The cast features:
- Lily Beau, an actor and singer-songwriter who recently worked on Y Sŵn, the winner of Best Film at the 2023 Welsh BAFTA Awards.
- Geraint Rhys Edwards, an actor and musician, whose notable work includes Hansh/ Cymry Feiral, Brassed Off (Aberystwyth Arts Centre), Riverfront Theatre Pantomimes, and the role of ‘Keith’ on Hollyoaks.
- Carys Eleri, an actor is recently seen as Delyth Fielding on Pobol y Cwm for BBC Wales, Nerys Evans in feature film Y Sŵn for Cwmni Joio/S4C and as Ceri Jenkins in Save The Cinema for Sky Arts.
- Rebecca Hayes, an actor who has recently finished their run as Mayella in Bartlett Shers' multi-award winning To Kill A Mockingbird (West End), and has just originated the role of Trixie in the world premiere of The Invincibles.
- Nathaniel Leacock, a singer-songwriter who is most well known for supporting Roots Manuva on his latest UK tour.
- Leila Navabi, a comedian, actor, presenter and writer from South Wales, who most recently met critical acclaim with her sell-out Edinburgh Fringe comedy show Composition, as well as being a writer on hit shows such as Bad Education and Never Mind The Buzzcocks.
Co-creation with communities is a critical part of both Bethan and NTWs’ approach. Bethan has developed Feral Monster in close collaboration with teenagers across Wales – from students at Pupil Referral Units in Pembrokeshire to the LGBTQIA+ youth club of GISDA, a young people's support charity working in Gwynedd – as well as with performers during the research and development process.
Writer Bethan Marlow (she/they) says:
“The story of this play is not autobiographical but all the feelings, fears, thoughts and urges are absolutely a depiction of what went on in my head as a teenager. I know I’m far from being a teenager now but it took this long for me to find the right words.”
Director Izzy Rabey (she/they) says:
“Rural queer stories about teenagers are so rarely seen on UK stages, let alone Welsh ones. It’s been such an honour for me to work on this piece with Bethan, Nicola and the team to create something that’s going to light a fire in the audience’s belly, both musically and visually. To be directing a show like this for our national theatre means so much to me and the weird queer rural kid I was growing up. I can’t wait to share with audiences this explosion of colour, hilarity, despair, teen angst and delightful chaos.”
Lorne Campbell (he/him), Artistic Director, National Theatre Wales says:
“Bethan’s script and Nicola’s soundtrack have such an energy – we can’t wait for it to explode across stages across Wales this spring. Feral Monster’s creative team is so passionate about giving a platform to voices of those excluded. They’re creating a piece of theatre that is both joyous and uplifting, celebrating the extraordinary in every teenager but also the messiness, the mistakes and the recklessness of adolescence.”
Opportunities for young people and LGBTQIA+ groups across Wales
Feral Monster has an accompanying outreach programme for schools and colleges, featuring talks by the lead creatives and Key Stage 4 digital lesson plans.
Young musicians across Wales will have the opportunity to learn about making music for theatre and to perform in pre-show or post-show gigs as part of Feral Fest.
As part of our approach to audience care, in each venue, we’ll work with local LGBTQIA+ groups to create “public living rooms”, a concept conceived by a charity called Camerados, where audiences are welcome to gather before and after the performances.
National Theatre Wales, along with the National Theatre, National Theatre of Scotland and many other theatres in the UK and across Europe has committed to making our shows to the new Theatre Green Book standards for environmental sustainability. Feral Monster will be made to The Theatre Green Book Intermediate standard whereby 75% of everything used will have had a previous life and 80% will go on to have a future life after the show.
NTW is proud to be one of the six organisations to be coordinating The Theatre Green Book alongside National Theatre, National Theatre of Scotland, the Theatres Trust, SOLT/UK Theatre and the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT).
NTW is partnering with The Riverfront in Newport, Aberystwyth Arts Centre and Pontio in Bangor to present three conferences addressing “Welsh Theatre and the Climate Crisis” throughout 2023.
Feral Monster is supported by PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund and John Ellerman Foundation, as part of NTWs’ Dramaturg programme.