I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass

I never felt unwelcome at the Fringe until this performance. I will not blame a cast of young actors for parents who turn queuing into an elite social occasion. Nor will I blame them that I was asked three times to move as yet another latecomer wanted my seat (although I didn’t realise you could be sitting in somebody else’s seat in a theatre with unallocated seating). But this young company and their teacher-directors certainly must take responsibility for what comes from the stage. And it was not good.

At best dull, at worst dangerous

Wellington Theatre Collective comprises Sixth Form students from Wellington College, a co-educational independent school in Berkshire for pupils aged 13-18. In this show, produced by Head of Drama Nick Huntington and co-directed by his colleagues Melissa Price and Rachel Taylor, we are presented with a cafe where customers appear eternally trapped. So far so good. First we see a movement piece showing the range of customers. Then we see the cafe being created. A series of vignettes follow, where we see relationships play out within subsections of the clientele, interspersed by a repeated moment of breaking glass. This moment seems designed to replicate the breaking of each relationship. But the whole thing never really goes anywhere. It is at best dull, at worst dangerous.

The most concerning aspect of this production is its apparent attitude towards sexuality. In the two groups where characters are (it seems strongly implied) gay, the company seems determined to mock and sneer. We are confronted with Harry, the rugby thug’s imitation of a camp gay Scot, his mincing and pouting topped off by a scarf wound around his neck and a book called ‘the sweet pornographer’. That sort love porn and scarfs, don’t they? The actor who plays Harry (and pulls focus throughout) is the selfsame one who speaks (in an English accent) for the Company at the end of the performance. Then there are Kurt and Dillon, a pastiche of a frustrated and closet same-sex relationship, arguing over a camel. These are all crass lazy stereotypes. Is this form of toxic masculinity a Wellington thing? I cannot see how it reflects well on the College.

There were other groups too in the dull cafe – yah cyclists who dominate the talking, an elderly couple where he ignores her, a Liverpudlian cafe worker, an American detective. Lots of people calling each other “Mate” although “yer wee slag” and “bitch” also make an appearance. What lovely words to hear from young mouths. But not one character offers any depth or vulnerability, any sensitivity or charm. There is a single movement piece based around the breaking glass. It is nicely lit and elegantly performed. But it gets repetitive after the fifth time.

The last Wellington College company I met at the Fringe were charm itself, their work The Frozen Deep thoughtful and carefully crafted. This time, I had the impression you didn’t just need to buy a ticket to be welcome at this event, you had to pay the school fees too. Sorry chaps, I can’t afford them. And if this is what they produce, that’s not much of a disappointment to me.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Ben Ludlow

Pleasance Courtyard

The Land of Lost Content

★★
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

The Roaring of the Voices

★★★★★
theSpace @ Symposium Hall

Late Bloomers' Tales: Chasing Time Through Songs

★★★★
Pleasance Dome

Blodlina: The Viking Musical

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

How long does it take to break a person? People come to the cafe on the Calvary Road to offload their problems, to right their wrongs and fix their relationships in this spiralling sequence of mind-shattering miniatures. Expect a gritty, challenging and entertaining hour of provocative and powerful theatre by The Wellington Theatre Collective.

Most Popular See More

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £42.00

More Info

Find Tickets