If you’re looking for festive family fun, steer clear of the Other Room Theatre this Christmas – Peter Pan will be at New Theatre until January 8th.
Looking Through Glass positions the audience as interns applying for an assistant producer role on Alison Tittenson’s (Nicola Reynolds) radio drama show. The show is a sequel to The Other Room Theatre’s resident company difficult|stage’s 2015 hit Alix in Wundergarten. The show explores the intricate and often bizarre relationships between actors and producers in a colourful, profanity-filled, and often outrageous manner.
The studio is occupied by Gwenith Priddy (Eiry Hughes), a wheelchair-bound Welsh speaking actor, Ivor Tittenson (Robert Bowman), Alison’s gay estranged ex-husband, and a half naked Fabian Padmore-Ponds (Francois Pandolfo) caged in a glass box. The show takes the audience through rehearsal sessions of obscure dramas and dark, insightful secrets are revealed along the way.
Alison, the intimidating alpha-woman producer, joins the audience at her control panel looking through the glass into the studio and often interacts with those poor members of the audience unlucky enough to be chosen. Reynolds’ performance is superb and portrays the steely Alison perfectly with just enough cracks to see the troubled soul inside. The performances by all the actors are impressive; Hughes’ perfectly timed comedic outbursts are a particular highlight.
The set and staging is brilliant and utilizes the limited space perfectly. Kudos to designers Carl Davies, Katy Morison, Sam Jones and Zakk Hein. The stage has been transformed into an all-white recording studio with Alison’s control panel sitting outside and stage manager Bethan Dawson controlling and contributing with a few lines from the back. The audio and visual elements were very impressive and added an additional dimension to the intentionally messy nature and tone of the show.
The plot lacks structure and often feels disjointed, but is arguably fitting and coincides with the show’s aim of bringing people’s ugly sides, intolerances and views, which we often suppress, to the forefront in an artistic explosion. There is foreshadowing of the plot from the monitors on the outside of the studio as we see what looks like flickers from the Saw film, with a man covered in blood.
The audience is offered fleeting moments of clarity and calm amongst the anarchy; much of the tension between the characters comes from Alison and Ivor – she is clearly still bitter about their separation and the fact that Ivor has chosen a man over her, a strong, forceful and dominant woman – and there is a moment where a canvas sheet is pulled across the glass and we see the couple as silhouettes dancing in the studio. This is one of the few moments we’re given an insight into the human side of Alison and her masquerade of the iron-fisted producer is dropped.
All in all, absolutely bonkers, but fun.
Looking Through Glass runs at The Other Room Theatre at Porter’s until December 23 – book your tickets here: http://www.otherroomtheatre.com/en/whats-on/seasons/autumnwinter-at-the-other-room/looking-through-glass/
Images: Kieran Cudlip