Review: The Old House, Kate Maravan/Brighton Fringe
4.0Overall Score

Kate Maravan’s, The Old House is an emotionally reminiscent journey shared by a mother and daughter returning to their seaside home. Through each step they delve deeper into past joys and trauma, in remembering what’s been lost whilst present memories grow weaker with age. 

Womanhood drips from every word Maravan speaks, as she expertly embodies both mother (85) and daughter (48). The mother appears charismatically whimsy in her hunched jigs and pointing fingers of grasping authority, while the daughter stands as the strong figure of support despite her saddening motive to scatter her daughter’s ashes on the beach. The darting conversations between the two are effortlessly executed by Maravan, as she captures every glimpse, glimmer and look in both characters. Giving the audience a clear indication of who she is playing and when. Maravan’s extremely physical performance speaks volumes for the capabilities of the theatre, and the great dramatic skill that she possesses. 

The story is broken up into beautiful moments of dialogue, poem and monologues, enabling us to experience both of these characters lives in flickers of artistic patterns. Through this we see both the personal and the connection between mother and daughter, and how this connection changes, grows, breaks, and mends. These relations we can see reflected in all our family bickers. However, in Maravan’s piece the bickers almost dissolve into a warm compassion, like a tight hand gripping onto the past you once knew, trying to keep it close to you.

The dynamic environment we are drawn into changes from the beach, to the carnival, to inside of a car. Each of these places are instilled within Maravan’s eyes as she peers out on the scene, which we imagine we are seeing with her. The soundscapes created also help us to picture their feet on the sand, and the whirring atmosphere of the fun fair. We feel that we are there with them. It is this intimacy to their space, even through a computer screen, that allows us to feel the energy between each character (despite them sharing the same body). 

Additionally, the reoccurring blurring technique used for the editing evokes a sense of the mother’s blurred memory, but also the muffled crashing of each wave. These blurs either fade or occasionally are used as two frames in front of the other to show the mother’s outer bodily confusion. An experience that is hard to understand or even portray on stage; however with the use of cinematic techniques this dual-bodied illusion creates a dizzying impact of age. Moreover, this could also be symbolic of the two bodies that Maravan is representing, in expressing the unity in blood but the separation in mind. 

The Old House is both a lullaby and a wake-up call, in the fact that it radiates a collective understanding of support and family, whilst also making you want to phone home immediately. Kate Maravan’s stunning performance stretches through each bone and glimmer in the eyes to withdraw a breathe of nostalgia from every audience member.

The Old House is playing on The Brighton Fringe website until 27 June 2021. For more information and tickets, see: The Old House | Brighton Fringe.