The Wendy House Trilogy: Edmund

This is a show I really wanted to enjoy; each part of the production tries very hard to achieve an ambitious vision, but don’t quite make it.

Whilst trying to think of a redeeming factor for this show, I settled on the sound design, precisely because I didn’t notice it.

Despite marketing itself as a homage to Lewis Carrol, Edmund contains no reference to the story of Edmund from The Chronicles of Narnia – the closest it comes to this is when this show’s protagonist looks in a wardrobe and puts on a fur coat, flirting with the character of ‘Lucy’ (his sister in the Narnia books), in a situation which is surprisingly unaware of its incest.

We are invited into a bedroom of an old house, where an old woman, Wendy, lies dying and refusing to go to hospital, taunted by a vengeful spirit, Linda. Edmund is Wendy’s grandson, who is stuck with trying to organise care for the dying lady. That is the serious storyline. There is also an almost farcical plot-line with a bureaucratic care-giver Nurse and his lying, salacious and kleptomaniac assistant, Lucy, which culminates in an argument over her love and a debate over euthanasia. If this sounds confusing and difficult to blend together, you’re right to think so.

Wendy, the old lady in the bed, is not actually in the bed. The show opens with Edmund talking to her and the vengeful spirit Linda who answers for Wendy. However, it took me an alarmingly long amount of time to realise Edmund and Linda were not talking to each other. The show is full of moments like this – poor choices that leave it hard to follow and even harder to believe. Particularly the point when Lucy is stealing jewellery and attempting to seduce her way out of trouble by lying seductively across the bed, everyone forgetting that Wendy should be there.

The poor script is not salvaged by good performances of the characters. Of the three actors, all of them stumble over lines. Edmund has an inability to make eye contact with anything, struggling the most with his lines. The care-giver is the only convincing character in the show, though the same actor’s performance of the man in the feather boa (don’t ask) never ascends above tired stereotype. Linda and Lucy are performed by the same actor, with little differentiation between the two. Linda’s only purpose seems to be to spit sarcastically about plot developments, which would probably only make sense if you had seen the rest of the Trilogy. Additionally, the actors seem ill-prepared to be onstage, both Linda and Lucy wearing the same necklace and bracelet, making the scene when Lucy steals jewellery look ridiculous, as she is already decked out with the nicest jewellery onstage.

The technical design suffers from the constant use of flickering lights, which make watching the show incredibly uncomfortable. The immersive set is impressive, though the floor isn’t flat, thudding and moving under the actors’ feet during inappropriate points of the show. Whilst trying to think of a redeeming factor for this show, I settled on the sound design, precisely because I didn’t notice it – though this may mean there was no sound design at all. This is fairly indicative of how difficult it is to watch this show.

Reviews by M Johnson

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The Blurb

Jealous Whale Theatre invite you into their Wendy House to enjoy this immersive piece which is part of The Wendy House Trilogy. In this homage to Lewis’ classic, Edmund is the carer for a terminally ill Wendy. Stumbling across dark secrets hidden in the old lady’s wardrobe he is faced with an agonising life or death decision.

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