House of America
Jack Studio Theatre
Opening Night – 27th June 2017
“Excellent acting delivered with a real intensity”
House of America written by Ed Thomas was first staged in Cardiff in 1988 and transferred to film in 1996. It now opens for a short run at the Jack Studio Theatre.
The Lewis family have been abandoned at a young age by their father who left to to follow his dreams of a new life in California. Living deep in the Welsh valleys, the three siblings struggle with the harsh reality of life in an environment where jobs are scarce and hopes and dreams are out of reach.
Clinging on to the distant chance of reconnecting with their father, they deal with the intricacies of their relationships and the fight to keep their unhinged mother under control. As the story unfolds and the closure of the local mine becomes imminent we see their lives begin to spiral out of control as they sink deeper into desperation.
Although the occasional lighthearted moment invites a wry smile from the audience this is a dark play with intense moments of despair.
The acting, particularly from Robert Durbin (Boyo) and Evelyn Campbell (Gwenny) is excellent and delivered with a real intensity. The lighting (Jamie Platt) adds to the sense of despair and the portrayal of grimness of life in that Welsh valley. It is also used to great effect to section the stage and provide focus for different scenes.
Although the play highlights the difficulties of living through such hard times it never fully explains the situation of the characters and as the play unfolds you are left with more questions than answers. Why did the father leave? Why did they not question mam further? Where did the incestuous relationship come from? Why did mam confide in Boyo and not Gwenny? What was the point of the labourer character?
The first half was enjoyable to watch but the second half made for uncomfortable viewing at times with story lines which didn’t seem so believable as those in the first.
An interesting play but I feel that the plot needs further development and explanation to make it feel complete.
Reviewed by Angela East
Production Photography by @photographise
House of America
is at the Jack Studio Theatre until 15th July