Grav Fringe 2024

Adelaide Fringe. Holden Street Theatres, Ruby’s Room. 15 Feb 2024

It might be the most intimate performance space in the 2024 Fringe. Indeed, even as mens’ locker rooms go, it is a tight fit. But, somehow, thirty audience members manage to perch on benches in a quaintly retro style reminiscent of the old Red Shed days. 

Ah, such is our true hunger for theatre and memorable arts experiences.


The divine irony here is that, while set in a mens’ locker room, the play is about the wild physicality of rugby and the wide mountain landscape of Wales.

It is a journey of the imagination which is guided by an accomplished Welsh actor, Gareth J.Bale.


Wondering where the Woke boundaries lie when writing of such things, it has to be acknowledged that the Welsh are celebrated for their vocal prowess and said actor is possessed of a wonderful, rich, resonant voice, complete with a beautifully lilting Welsh accent. He’s a joy to the ear.

And, despite the tiny wee performance area, he shines as a beautiful mover. He’s an extremely fine actor.


As for the script by Owen Thomas, it delivers a non-linear biography of a legendary, much-worshipped Welsh rugby player called Ray Gravell.

Grav would seem to have been a colourful man and a particularly revered icon.

Did I mention that he was a massive Welsh pinup?


The show opens with a delicious anecdote about Peter O’Toole meeting Grav on a film set. 

Ever with his graceful body work, Bale sets the scene of the Welsh cultural appetite for rugby and the passions of competitive rivalry. He has a rugby ball prop and a fine kicking mime style, so imaginary balls fly through the darkness to mighty goal destinations. 


Grav had a full and varied life, some of it a decidedly grim. There are moments of immense poignancy in the play. There are moments, many of them, of raucous rivalry and jubilation.

The timeline is at times confusing, and the scoring is a challenge for those of us who have never been near a rugby match.

One can only respect the passion that so much of the world has for this form of football and believe in the verité of a very skilled piece of dramatic writing delivered by a simply superb actor.


At media day, the room went wild when it came to Bales’s curtain call.

This critic also applauded enthusiastically. For the production: lovely writing, sublime acting, and fun venue.


Samela Harris


When: 15 Feb to 17 Mar

Where: Holden Street Theatres