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For those of you who didn’t already know, the Alma Tavern in Bristol, also hosts low key theatre productions in an intimate upstairs room.
This month it plays host to Leaves of Glass – a play by Philip Ridley.
The four-strong cast from Room One Productions take the audience through a two and a half hour long emotional journey which is bound to culminate in tragedy.
The tiny dark room felt part of the minimalistic set, not least due to the fact that a small part of the performance occurred on the steps next to the audience.
There was little on the low set stage save for a set of shelves full of glass items. This play would have really benefit from some more visuals and sound, though the Portishead-esque atmospheric music did work well.
Sadly, this production didn’t grab you from the onset. A cliche’d monologue by the lead character Stephen with plenty of grand hand gestures and furrowed brows failed to impress.
But by the time the interval came things were starting to look up with the final scene of the first half nothing short of gripping.
The story follows two brothers on a journey of discovery years after the suicide of their father, with themes of stars and glass and builds up to a very dark twist.
The midway point was where things really started to get interesting, where you were completely enthralled. That scene alone made you want to return after the interval (had that scene not been so powerful you may not have bothered returning).
The two main actors, Michael Fox and Chris Levens, were joined by Judith Haley and Madeleine Havell to play the mother and wife respectively, but they added little to the play. The mother had the potential to be a comedy character but apart from the odd chuckle this fell a little flat. And the Stephen and his wife were one of the most unlikely couples ever.
The play was held together by Chris, who played the complex younger brother and whose Del Boy tones combined deep anguish with impeccable comic timing.
Ridley is described as ‘one of the world’s greatest living playwrights’ and while this may be a slight overstatement, this play was intelligent, considered and intriguing and certainly left you thinking.

Leaves of Glass runs at the Alma Tavern in Clifton until Saturday 21st August. Tickets £8, £6 concessions.

Words: Laura Williams