Since the Bunker Theatre announced it will be closing its doors in March this year, it is with somewhat of a heavy heart that you enter this underground lair of creative urgency. A haven for first-time theatre-goers and seasoned thespians alike, the Bunker has made a name for itself in programming work from writers and directors underrepresented on UK stages. And, although goodbyes are never easy, if their current line-up is anything to go by, they are not going to leave without a bang.
Written and directed by Masha Kevinovna, The Girl with Glitter in her Eye is a cross-arts show created in collaboration with the OPIA Collective, an explosive collaboration of female and LGBTQIA+ artists. Kevinovna has created a Greek tragedy of the modern day, with all too familiar thematics.
Pressured to create something beautiful out of her darkness, young artist Helen is torn when she finds inspiration in her friend Phil’s story.
Accompanying the narrative, are three furies, all played by the main actresses. They are laying before us a case that they and the audience have yet to pass judgement on: Is it possible to tell someone’s story without abusing it? If we create our own story out of another’s experience, are we listening to what they have to say?
Naomi Gardener steals the show as the overtly pompous Art Director who is more interested in sales and hashtags than the actual craft. Gardener creates a caricature of a character, high-pitched voice and exaggerated gestures as hilarious as they are infuriating.
Played by Anna Mackay, Philomela, or Phil as she is addressed in the show, is living with a secret, a past trauma she can’t shake. Mackay displays a broken innocence without it seeming acted or overly dramatized. The change in Phil’s emotions build naturally on Mackay’s face before her words make their way to the audience.
Helen, a young artist finding herself stuck between opportunities and expectations, is played by Modupe Salu. Salu acts with a loving openness, embracing any emotion the scene throws at her. Her characters nervous interaction with the Art Director contrast beautifully with the playfully coaxing nature she displays with Phil.
Cara Evan’s set-design is beautiful and bleak. Keeping the staging in white and grey focuses our point of view onto the colours created by the play’s music and movements.
Director and writer Kevinovna fuses spoken word and dance with original compositions performed live by composer Ben Ramsden. His trancelike music manages to give every scene more depth, the actor’s dialogue moving to complement its rhythm.
Kevinovna’s script can be in danger of becoming a farce. The intensity of some characters, although bringing comic relief to the narrative, does draw intensity away from other scenes. I would have liked to have seen the energy more evenly spread throughout the play. It feels like a lot was kept on the backburner to be released during comedic points and in the climax of the production.
A Girl with Glitter in her Eye is about sexual trauma and the female perspective of trauma. But throughout the play we, the audience, bear witness to something more. The play pushes us to the boundaries of consent as we wonder: Does the revelation of trauma gives us power over our experiences, or are we opening ourselves up to judgement and misinterpretation?
The Girl with Glitter in her Eye is playing at The Bunker Theatre until the 27 January 2020. For more information and tickets, see www.bunkertheatre.com.