Review: Our Glass House

21 04 2012

We were told to meet at the corner of Plummers Hill and Hudd’s Vale Road in St George, in the middle of residential streets and next to a small park. About a dozen of us congregated, and then were allowed in pairs, at intervals of about a minute, into a disused house down the road. This was the setting for the performance we were to not just watch, but be part of.

The house has been completely transformed by a large team of designers and artists. Audience members were free to wander around the rooms, discovering for themselves characters and some of the house’s delights and dark secrets.

Our Glass House deals with the difficult subject of domestic violence; the actors we encounter telling stories adapted by writer Aisha Zia that are based on interviews with real people, both men and women, who have experienced violence in the home.

Co-directed by Evie Manning and Rhiannon White, a lot of the action takes place simultaneously in rooms upstairs and downstairs, and occasionally outside, meaning that everyone caught their own versions of the stories.

Then a clatter, shout, the sound of voices or the sound of a bell drew us in to one particular room where we witnessed a meal around a table, or a trial in a courtroom featuring young actor Jason Bardouille brilliantly playing the role of a confrontational barrister in a scene written by Bea Roberts.

The issue of domestic violence was never far away. Every room even had numbers, scrawled in pen above them some statistics about the number of people who it affects. Our Glass House shows that it affects young and old, black and white, male and female.

Effective and affecting, Our Glass House is a wonderfully inventive site-specific production from theatre collective Common Wealth like no other I have ever seen in Bristol. It is a superb use of space, part art installation, part performance, so head to St George and prepare to get lost in thoughts and lost in this house and its secrets.

Our Glass House is being performed until April 29. Click here for more information.


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