Wednesday, 24 July 2013

This Is Where We Live by Vivienne Walshe - Griffin Theatre

The Griffin Theatre space is tiny, comparable to the one at The Bush Theatre in London. It is just a square room, lined on two sides with benches. For This Is Where We Live, the stage was simply the floor in front of the benches and the brick walls on either side, painted black.

If I say the play is a two-hander about teenage love and disadvantage, that makes it sound grim, solemn and preachy, when in fact it is funny, poignant and enthralling. The two actors worked without props, conjuring school yards, mobile homes, creek beds and a suburban dining room.

Ava Torch, who plays Chloe, captured my heart with her portrayal of a girl who possesses an intelligence she will never get the chance to use and a knowledge of the world that would be sad at any age but is especially so in one so young. Yalin Ozucelik's character is less the focus of the play - it is Chloe's eventual fate that we are told of, not his - and he is an awkward adolescent boy, where she is worldly. Nevertheless, Ozucelik does an excellent job of bringing this rather less charismatic figure to life.

The sad impossibility of the couple's love story and the lack of any prospect of escape for Chloe made me cry in the end. Along the way though, there were many moments of hilarity and laughter. Best of all, for the entire time I was in the theatre, the two actors, equipped only with Vivienne Walshe's excellent script - and, I would guess, the very good direction of Francesca Smith - enthralled me. They created the magic that is what makes live theatre so wonderful. Out of nothing, they conjured real people with lives and feelings and personalities and stories. It was one of the best evenings I've spent at the theatre in ages.

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