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Sunday, 31 October 2010

'Over Gardens Out' at The Riverside

The play was first performed in 1969 at The Royal Court Theatre, see image above.

I enjoyed Peter Gill’s ‘Over Gardens Out’ although I found some of it unfathomable. This short play is directed by Sam Brown and is the second of two Gill works on at The Riverside Studios in Hammersmith.

The Riverside offers a wealth of creative activity, from film screenings to dance and new theatre projects. They have several performance spaces; previously I had only been to the main theatre. Over Gardens Out was performed in Studio 3, a smaller, colder, darker space that allows the audience to sit much closer to the action. I felt rather confined and this definitely affected my experience of the play.

The whole cast are onstage throughout, some barely have a role to play other than as voyeurs. Their presence emphasises the hostile nature of the play and the troubles of 1968 the year in which it is set. They stand judging.

At only 50 minutes, Over Gardens Out is more of a study than a story. The narrative revolves around the homoerotic friendship between two teenage boys. Dennis shows his insecurities through his moodiness and bratty behaviour, clinging to his mother at every opportunity, bully Jeffry is more overtly aggressive and masculine. Meilir Rhys Williams makes a very competent stage debut as Dennis. He is precocious and childish but in a way that is intriguing rather than annoying to watch. He is also a wonderful dancer demonstrated when he takes his mother’s hand to dance with her, for me the best moment of the play. There is a constant feeling of tension created predominantly by tough guy Jeffry (Calum Calaghan). He bounds around the stage with territorial arrogance, his nasty teasing often made me feel uncomfortable.

An interesting play that left me pondering the subjects it raises.

Over Gardens Out continues until 6 November 2010.

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