On Stage: A Regular Little Houdini, Newport Riverfront

The Riverfront's tenth anniversary as a home to a variety of arts in Newport coincided with a week run of Daniel Llewellyn Williams one-man stage show A Regular Little Houdini, and really, what a cracker of a show to celebrate with.

Over the week, school parties and theatre goers alike have been enthralled as Williams takes on the role of Alan, a resident of Alexandra Road, Pill, little over a century ago.

The story follows Alan's journey from boy to man and his obsession with the escapologist Harry Houdini, set against the historical backdrop of Houdini's visits to Newport in the early 1900s, the opening of the transporter bridge and later on, the docks disaster.

All events and scenarios, meticulously researched by Williams are brought to life through the eyes of Alan, his 'Gammy' (the chief constable of Newport Police) and Harry Houdini himself. Williams takes on each role via a funny, magical, powerfully emotive performance.

What is revealed is an insight into Newport life in the early 20th Century and what it might have been like substituting 21st century distractions for hope, adventure and creativity. (Alan's study of picking the lock on Victorian handcuff's could almost be likened to the persistence of a young computer programmer).

Direction from Josh Richards (himself a master of the one-man performance in Burton) and music from Megan Cox add both subtlety and poignancy to the unfolding story. The resulting play is something to behold and a triumph not only for Williams but Newport itself. Long forgotten people, places and events are extracted from the history books and aging copies of the South Wales Argus to reclaim their rightful place in Welsh history through this magical history tour.

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