Constellation Street at The Other Room

Constellation Street - Neal McWilliams (credit Aenne Pallasca)

The latest installment of The Other Room’s Insomnia season is Matthew Bulgo’s ‘Constellation Street’.

There’s an instant pull, my dad grew up on Lead Street, and every Friday we’d go to my nan’s, we’d get fish and chips from John’s on the way, and we’d be obsessed with all the street names- a clash of metals, gemstones and planets.

There is something wonderful about theatre which pulls you in with association, the immediacy creating a closer feeling of home, and yet loosing nothing for those lacking familiarity.

Matthew Bulgo’s take on immediacy and emotion feels terribly subtle, a very intelligent theatre performance, which could risk being arrogant- overly confident- but it isn’t- you are given a room key, a road to follow, each bring an immediacy, my ‘Great Western Lane’ took me straight into a hotel room.

This promenade style theatre sees the audience split into groups, introduced to monologues, what it usually an intimate theatre space at The Other Room is now split into different rooms by Amy Jane Cook, each maintaining a sense of intimacy, but instantly plunging you into the atmosphere.Constellation Street - Neal McWilliams (credit Aenne Pallasca)And in ‘Someone Else’s Child’ you are instantly in the anonymity of this hotel room, with a man who you can feel is pacing the space, despite the fact he barely moves as the audience feels the space.

Neal McWilliams takes the role of Stephen- a husband, a father, ex-husband, no longer a parent. The story unravels, a monologue performed in such a way that engages the audience, without being too intimate, there is a cleverness in the direction and the text, because this is an entirely uncomfortable recollection, emotional and full of the danger of judgement, but there is a balance- it strays from the edge, it doesn’t tip you over- at times there is the tinge of humour, at others a breath- a change of focus, the twists and turns become clear as to why Stephen is in this hotel room.

And as you pause to absorb, you are directed into another room, to meet Nicola Reynold’s Ruth- ‘The Good Samaritan’, instantly personable and engaging. And so the audience are take on another monologue, a complete contrast, upbeat and friendly, the need for acceptance is overwhelming. But as you are reeled in, empathetic, so the twists and turns become clear, and by the end there is conflict, everything you are drawn into is thrown against a wall, with the view to believe that all is as it was, the person is the same.Constellation Street - Nicola Reynolds (credit Aenne Pallasca)Left wondering of the links, apart from locality between two places, you find yourself meeting Alex. And so unfolds, and cleverly brings all the pieces of your rubik’s cube together. The third monologue ‘The New Girl’.

Gwenllian Higginson creates the vulnerability and attitude of Alex, another layer of contrast to the monologues which have gone before, there is a feeling of wise and young, and in the language so the thought processes are revealed, and the part of the stories you have heard come together.

And so, an almost happy ending, a conclusion at least comes to being. And a reality of the complexities of life, regardless of footprint. Matthew Bulgo’s text is undoubtedly a talent, the ability of Chelsey Gillard and Dan Jones to direct is one that leaves you nodding in appreciation, these separate performances  which engage and piece together.Constellation Street - Gwenllian Higginson (credit Aenne Pallasca)Of course, the best is left in the applause. The extra actor. That you have only seen three of four performances.

Is there something lost in missing a monologue?
It’s an impossible one to comment.
But the story comes together, successfully, with three.
Three dimensions work.
Three dimensions grabs your throat, but doesn’t tip you over the edge. 
And I feel a little bit grateful.

Constellation Street is another confident choice for The Other Room, and the choice of the audience not seeing the text holistically brave. It pays off. And it creates a performance that whether a first timer of pub theatre, or an ‘old-timer’ has a hold, of challenge and conclusion. And definitely one to see.

Constellation Street is at The Other Room until 30th April 2016 with tickets available from the website.

Disclosure: I was invited to the performance for the purpose of this review. All opinions and views contained are my own.

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