Open House – ‘A rare and original theatrical treat’
A new site specific play by Helena Thompson
Kensal House, Autumn-Winter 2005
Croydon Warehouse Theatre, September 2005
Edinburgh Fringe Festival, August 2005
Winner of The List’s Edinburgh Fringe Highlight of the year award
Fringe First Nominee (Edinburgh)
Time Out Pick of the Week (London)
Nominated for the Carol Tambor Award
Directed in London by Rachel Grunwald
Directed in Edinburgh and Croydon by Sarah V. Chew
Cast: Richard Evans, Selina Chilton, Kevin Murphy, Mich Duffy, Napoleon Ryan
Open House charts the disintegration of a fragile urban community after the death of one of their number. During its London run, the audience moved through the neglected house alongside the characters – eavesdropping, peeking through holes in walls and dodging smashing plates as the web of secrets which had held the group together falls apart.
Open House played to critical and popular acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe, garnering top awards and nominations before transferring to London in co-production with The Riverside Studios. The overwhelming success of the site specific performances in the community rooms in the Kensal House estate, West London, led to the extension of the sell-out run and SPID’s invitation to take up permanent residence on the Kensal House Estate.
Time Out London said:
Pick of the Week, ****
‘The fun starts before the play begins: first the audience must find the theatre – the stylish, elusive Kensal House, in darkest Ladbroke Grove. On the ground floor, a single flat (number 666) has been transformed by Spid theatre company into a dilapidated bedsit that, littered with overflowing ashtrays, broken pianos and half-empty wine-bottles, seems more like a crack house than a performance space.
‘Moving fluidly from room to room, guided by music, dialogue and cunning lighting changes, ‘Open House’ explores the tangled mess left behind after the violent death of a young man who once lived there. The house belongs to Charlie, an ageing boho who has made an almost psychotic effort not to alter a hair of his home since his wife died, and who is only too pleased when his daughter Marie’s friends move in. But with the arrival of a genial hooker and a repressed, grieving brother, the paper-thin fabric holding this arrangement together begins to tear…
‘With Rachel Grunwald’s superb direction and Stephen Evan Graham’s flawless design, this production generates an atmosphere so tensely dramatic that the characters take on a dimension rarely experienced on a conventional stage. The scenes between Mich Duffy’s aching Marie and Kevin Murphy’s deceptively deviant Josh in particular are at once raw and magically etherial.
In all, a rare and original theatrical treat.’
The List said:
‘At last; a piece of new writing that is not only perfectly written, but perfectly performed. Helena Thompson’s play restores one’s faith in the ability of writers to create new plays dealing with real issues … Top quality new comedy-drama ‘ FIVE STARS.
Winner of The List Edinburgh Fringe Highlight of the year award:
‘Thompson’s play was the real fringe. It was understated, moving and above all – it was naturalism.’
Time Out Edinburgh said:
‘Thompson is an interesting, complicated talent, who takes admirable risks in this darkly humourous depiction …a voice to listen out for in the future’
The Scotsman said:
‘Thompson’s slick script reveals a seductive fusion of anarchy, communism and black comedy. As the anger and frustrations of the piece build, this blistering performance urges for a response. And rightly gets it’, Nominated for a Fringe First ****
Sunday Times Culture said:
‘Just when festival fatigue was setting in, a few sparkling productions sent the clouds packing……Open House, for one, is a tightly scripted and well-acted drama’