Dim Diolch

Words of warning: this production is entirely in Welsh (the title means “No thank you”). There are subtitles, but only to an extent. It’s a biopic of the American scientist George Price, who discovered the altruism gene, and mainly focuses on the man’s difficult marriage and inner conflicts. In the absence of detailed subtitles, it’s hard to say what exactly goes on in the show, but it does sound lovely (although sometimes it’s a bit like listening to snakes coughing). It beautifully uses a small space and natural lighting, and sometimes being unable to understand the dialogue brings the focus solely on the pure emotion displayed here. While it often leaves non-Welsh speakers absolutely lost, this show would be a rewarding experience for any Welsh speakers keen to see live theatre in their language.

It beautifully uses a small space and natural lighting, and sometimes being unable to understand the dialogue brings the focus solely on the pure emotion displayed here.

At times, this feels like watching a silent film. If you can’t understand Welsh, you’ll have to make do with the subtitles projected on a small screen to the left of the stage. Like the captions in a silent film, these move very slowly and only give bits of the dialogue. Generally, only one or two subtitles are provided for each long, dialogue-heavy scene. We’re left guessing, which is sometimes effective, sometimes not. In one of the opening scenes, it’s easy to guess at what George and his wife-to-be are talking about — they’re young and in love. The pure, lively energy here is wonderful to see, but later on the lack of clarity is frustrating, especially in the final scenes involving George and a presumably homeless man called Smokey.

There’s some fine acting on display here, but the script, from what I could see of it, seemed a bit overdramatic. However, this fault may be due to the translation alone. The lighting is cleverly done — most of it comes from small desk lamps on the stage, creating a realistic interior. The set is also very natural-looking and cleverly suggests both a doctor’s office and scientist’s lab. You feel as if you are working alongside George or sitting beside him when he receives a diagnosis of thyroid cancer.

While this is a lovely production in many respects, it would benefit from expanded subtitles, though it’s understandable that this project is partly about escaping the linguistic dominance of English. With its history of being marginalized and suppressed, the Welsh language deserves theatre all its own. It’s a pity that this production seems a bit muddled and that the subtitles can’t be more inclusive, but any Welsh speakers should see Dim Diolch and report back to the rest of us. 

Reviews by Lauren Moreau


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The Blurb

Welsh language drama (with English translation) tells the tragic true story of American scientist George Price, the first person to present the selflessness equation, helped develop radiation for cancer and invented computer-aided design with IBM. In 1970s London, George Price abandoned his career in a mission to shelter and comfort homeless alcoholics and ultimately falls victim to his own theories. At the age of 52, driven mad by the implications of his research, he took his own life. ‘If you see one Welsh language production this year, demand to see this’ (Paul Griffiths, Y Cymro).