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thousand shards of glass

A Thousand Shards of Glass is a one woman performance, written by Ben Pacey, that is part play and part poetry reading. The use of beautifully crafted words and immersive sound and lighting creates a rich a world for the audience to get lost in. Lucy Ellinson, with the help of director Jane Packman and music & sound design by Lewis Gibson, leads your mind away from reality for a short time, evoking childhood memories of story telling and make believe.

The staging is simple, a ring of lights indicates the performance space with seating arranged in a circle around it. There are no props, except for two portable speakers, any images that spring to mind are conjured by the words, sound effects and the depths of your own imagination. The surround sound adds to the feeling you are lost in the world right along side the performer.

Before she leads you to your seats, Lucy encourages you to let go, forget the words and feel. In such a small intimate space it would be easy to feel intimidated but she is welcoming and friendly, greeting audience members a few at a time, immediately putting you at ease. The audience interaction is playful and never forced, you feel yourself willing to participate in the story.

This piece draws influences from a variety sources. It playfully mixes spy adventure with computer games, graphic novels and a touch of fantasy. The story line is a loose one, but that’s not a bad thing. By using poetry, not prose, the text is open to interpretation, I doubt whether any two people in the room had the same imagery in mind. 

I felt privileged to be a part of such an intimate performance. It felt personal, because when a space is so sparse, your mind’s eye fills in the blanks with your own experiences and projects them onto Lucy as she navigates the dream world she has found herself in. The character she portrays is moving through the action much like the spectators are, with little idea of the eventual outcome. During the performance I found myself not only watching Lucy but watching the other people I was sharing this experience with, wondering if they were thinking and feeling the same as me.

Leaving the auditorium I was unsure what had actually happened during the course of the play but it didn’t matter. To be given permission to not over analyse the piece and live in the present was liberating and regardless of whether I understood what was going on, Lucy’s energy and charisma is infectious, and I left feeling as though I’d experienced something new and exciting. What I took away from this evening was greater than an intellectual understanding of a text, it was a deeper feeling that there is no limit to your imagination or what can be achieved in a theatrical setting.

On some level, to review this piece goes against its vision. At its heart, Theatre is about personal experience and living in the moment, and no two person’s experience will ever be truly the same. A Thousand Shards of Glass is cleverly crafted and engaging, allowing you to enter a place within your consciousness that is rarely entered in day to day life once you are part of the adult world.

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Reviewed 22/04/13

By Catherine Duffy

22nd – 23rd Apr 2013
Albany Theatre, London, SE8.

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