Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage
by Robin Soans
Produced by Max Stafford Clark for National Theatre of Wales and Out Of
21st April - 25th April 2015
The play combines the tragic events in Bridgend, where there were a series
of teenage suicides, dating from 2007 (some suggesting they were influenced
by the dark power of social media), and the reluctance of Gareth 'Alfie'
Thomas, the captain of the Welsh rugby union side, to declare he was gay.
It is set in a large sports dressing room where benches act as hospital
beds, seats in the stadium, therapy treatment tables and comfy settees.
The script, laced with vernacular language, draws upon real-life interviews
of those who tried to but failed to commit suicide, and the musings of
But many were not so fortunate to survive self destruction. Between 2007-2012
79 people died by suicide, many of them aged between 13-years-old and
17-years-old, and often by hanging themselves.
A fascinating aspect of the character of Thomas on stage was that he
was portrayed at various points by all of the six actors, male and female,
young and middle-aged. Surprisingly it proved effective, as if you were
listening to someone else's views of oneself.
They recounted his rise to fame - to be perfectly honest I had never
previously known about him before seeing this play - I follow football
which uses a round ball! - as a highly rated player, to the time when,
after much soul searching, he openly declared his sexuality.
He became the first professional rugby union player to publicly acknowledge
he was gay. Until that time the gutter press had incessantly hounded him
to the point where he seriously considered doing away with himself.
I am not sure whether the two storylines are directly linked together
- -there was far more emphasis on the Thomas story - other than they originated
in Bridgend, but nevertheless it was a very watchable piece of theatre