That Face, by Polly Stenham - Review

‘Quirky Bird Theatre’ work with young actors, offering them the chance to perform in productions of professional quality and should be commended on their current choice of text. In having ‘That Face’ performed by young people, a deepened dimension of vulnerability comes to light which further enhances the character’s emotional desperation. Stenham presents three characters who have become the product of a family separation. Mia and her brother Henry are virtually left parentless. Their father (who is seldom heard from) is living in China with his new wife, and their alcoholic mother, Martha, has no capacity to nurture them. Instead, she relies on Henry to look after her, keeping him closely bound by a deeply inappropriate oedipal bond, whilst making her loathing of Mia painfully vocal.

Artistic Director, Anna Friend, develops delicate nuances of sensitivity within her young actors, as their unstable world moves into greater turmoil. A remarkable amount of depth is drawn out in their acting, through a carefully considered and highly discerning interpretation of this text. When watching this production, one can’t help but feel drawn into the angst and uncertainty these young people must be experiencing. This is a very sincere production, which tackles the complex themes of this play with a great sense of maturity and professionalism.

(c) Naia Headland-Vanni 2017

The Alma Tavern, Bristol 14th -18th February.

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