The Glass Will Shatter, Omnibus Theatre & Althea Theatre

Joe Marsh’s new play The Glass Will Shatter investigates the consequences of the Prevent Strategy, a counter-terrorism initiative which has received much criticism for its discriminatory implications. The story aims to offer interesting insight, but a lack of clarity leaves me unsure of the play’s purpose. 

The story follows Rebecca, an ex-science teacher whose encounter with student Amina eight years ago haunts her. As the timeline of events is revisited, we begin to understand that no one has come out of this unscathed.

The truth begins to be brought to light, but the play finishes without actually revealing any explicit details of the events which seem to hold such weight for the characters. This imbalance leaves me wondering whether the destination of this story exists in moments beyond the final scene. 

Marsh’s script presents three unique standpoints with this trio of characters. Their opinions oppose frequently, but there doesn’t seem to be a moment when two characters are completely transparent with each other, even within scenes that suggest an ultimate confrontation.

For a play which is clearly trying to be honest about the reality of a policy such as Prevent, I don’t understand why this moment of clarity never comes. The script has a good pace and is interesting to watch, but I’m left waiting for the final punch, which never comes. 

Naima Swaleh is captivating as Amina, performing with a reassuring sense of purpose onstage, remaining in control of all scenes, not by grasping for status, but by retaining a sense of stoic self-confidence. Swaleh’s performance is definitely scene stealing, with me finding myself constantly drawn to her, even in moments where she is not speaking. 

Annie-Lunette Deakin-Foster’s movement is so sparse, it is reduced to a mere garnish on this theatrical plate of food. It is frustrating when movement seems to appear only to transition from scene to scene, instead of existing as an essential part of the story.

Particularly when moments of physicality are seen to be building tension, the addition of dramatic lighting, designed tonight by Will Monks, assumes that strobe lighting and slow motion synchronised choreography is a recipe for dramatic success. However, it appears to me that this all too frequent combination is unconvincing in its attempts to heighten the drama. 

This play offers its audience an interesting premise, but doesn’t have the depth of exploration to truly address the themes at the heart of this play. Perhaps the audience are meant to draw their own conclusions, but I feel a lack of information leaves little to be analysed.

The Glass Will Shatter is playing the Omnibus Theatre until February 8. For more information and tickets, see their website.