The Bristol Old Vic Fermenters have done it again. A quietly magnificent piece of theatre.
The Window, a one woman play written by Silva Semerciyan, was performed by Charlotte Melia. The action centres around Melia’s character moving from a market town to Bristol and having her first child with partner Nath. Her opening lines are about the relief of moving somewhere new and escaping past expectations of living somewhere small and rural, neighbours and acquaintances breathing down your neck. The play quickly moves on from this thought to explore how we build relationships. A window built-in a wall opens up a connection between Melia’s character, and her elderly male neighbour.
Different characters are summoned on stage by subtle changes of voice and stance, all performed by Melia. She knows the script well, and creates a plausible character who doesn’t try to make you like her. But instead lays bare her vulnerabilities as her relationship with the neighbour changes.
This play is emotionally quite hard-hitting. Semerciyan is frank. But you don’t cry because of the sobering reality of the situation. You are called to action. The writer and actor put you in the characters head, and I don’t know about other people, but I felt the need to decide how I where I stood. Are the neighbours actions right or wrong? Is he lonely, does she have postnatal depression, does he have dementia, does that make it ok, and undermine how she feels?
By sticking to such a paired back narrative Semerciyan manages to explore so many big (and I can’t think of a better word) issues. Society. Who is responsible? How do the actions of other affect our mental health? Should you confront people? What constitutes a sexual assault? How do you learn to trust people?
A mention also has to go to the disgustingly talented Timonthy X Atack for the sound design, he created a haunting and beautiful sound scape. Perfectly placed notes which rounded the play and really created the performance.
A personal observation, the time frame of the play didn’t quite sit right with me, I wondered if the same action could have happened over a shorter period of time. Or perhaps there should have been more references to time, so the audience knew how fast we were going.
That said, the final scene of the play gave me chills down my spine, perhaps it is a bit close to home. Although the end is left open, we are left to speculate, and the audience is given a strong feeling for what might have happened.
You have one more night to see this as part of its current run at Bristol Old Vic, I would suggest you get tickets. Plus if purchased in conjunction with Echo Beach you get a discount – Echo Beach is also fantastic, click here for more information.