Sunday, November 08, 2009

Berkoff on Ruby Street

56 Ruby Street, Adamsdown, is hardly one of Cardiff's most salubrious addresses, but from 1970-3 it was luvvie-central, for this was the new home of the Welsh Theatre Company. The old Mission hall on Ruby Street had been converted into an 80 seater arena - the Casson Studio Theatre.

During its brief history the theatre hosted many interesting and sometimes controversial productions, such as The Killing of Sister George and 10 Rillington Place. Jake Thackray did a week of shows; BS Johnson read some of his poetry, there. One of the most memorable performances took place in 1972 when uber-thesp Steven Berkoff brought his theatre company to Adamsdown.

Berkoff was directing and starring in his own adaptation of Kafka's Metamorphosis. Unfortunately the show would be dogged by bad luck. The opening was delayed by a couple of days because an actress broke two of her ribs. Further problems occurred on the opening night. One of the cast, Tony Meyer, failed to turn up because his London to Cardiff train broke down. Undeterred, the director insisted that the show must go on. Not only did Berkoff perform his own role (as Gregor Samsa) but filled in for Tony Meyer, too. How marvellous!

The Casson Studio Theatre tucked away in the narrow, terraced, working-class streets of Adamsdown sounds, to me, like a pretty cool facility. However the locals weren't quite so enthusiastic. They used to regularly complain that the cars of visiting theatrical types clogged up their neighbourhood. Nowadays 56 Ruby Street is the home of the Rubicon, a community dance space.