This year’s alternative Christmas production at The Other Room sees difficult|stage returning with Looking Through Glass. Following on from Alix in Wundergarten, there is the same promise of original and adult humour. And of course, audience participation.
From the off members of the audience are directed to wave hands in the air as we are ‘welcomed’ by the straight-talking, slightly intimidating, probably ball-busting, Alison Tittenson. Nicola Reynolds takes on the role with scary conviction. And from the outset the audience is lured from hesitant to full laughter.
It seems we are here as potential interns. Quickly briefed on improving our chances of success in selection, the humour is carefully woven, constantly bordering on offensive- demonstrating the joys of political correctness.
Introduced to the cast of radio actors, we the interns are watching rehearsals unfold. With clever use of The Other Room’s space, Carl Davies’s set design is a fantastic BBC studio, the audience looking in to the space as rehearsals begin. The poorly programmed lights providing a constant humour.
There is no overlooking Fabian. Resurrected again by François Pandolfo, Fabian is being punished for the misdemeanours of the previous day. And what better way to be persecuted by Alison than to be locked in a small glass cubicle. And so the question begins, who is looking through glass.Fabian is suitably, well, unbalanced. Stalking the actors, added humour is provided through the character to accompany the unfolding of the characters of Gwenith Pridd and Ivor Titterson.
Gwenith is the wheelchair bound, welsh-speaking mother. Eiry Hughes takes on the role and is convincing in the comic elements of Gwenith’s dual-personality.
Robert Bowman is the appropriately effervescent Ivor. With the same surname as Alison the play unfolds with the turmoil of this broken marriage.
Within the storyline are segways into quiz shows and dance-offs, creating humour- adding to the surreal.Whilst the production begins with a consistent comedy, it becomes slightly wearing. At times my mind wandered to thinking about how much fun the script must have been to rehearse. And I wondered if this was really what I was meant to be appreciating.
At other times I felt spent, I had laughed and found humour in the moment, and yet I was still observing it.
And as the play reached it’s final moments I felt sadness in the surreal culmination of the piece. It didn’t feel warranted. I mourned for Christmas 2017. Deciding as my own mind escaped me, only the glass cubicle taking on a Bobby Ewing-esque space could bring Fabian and co. back for a third year.
I wanted Through The Looking Glass to be a theatre production I would finally take my ADD suffering husband to see, such is his humour. And whilst I don’t doubt he’d enjoy the majority, I think he’d just leave theatre to me based on the feelings you walk away with.
I wanted to love this, but despite pondering and reflection, I just didn’t.
Looking Through Glass is at The Other Room, Cardiff until 23rd December with tickets available via the website.
Disclosure: I received tickets for the performance for the purpose of this review. All opinions and words contained are my own.