Review: The David Glass Ensemble, Bleak House
A Jarring preview and demonstration of wonderful talent.
The David Glass Ensemble’s performance of Bleak house (which I attended in October) was a balancing act between story telling and the delivery of the artistic concept; of which an equilibrium had not yet been achieved. The performance was fresh, energetic and had a charismatic quality about it. However, it’s movement and pantomime qualities out shone the story and to some extent its actors.
The story Bleak House written by Charles Dickins is a mammoth tale. Therefore it is a true feet to attempt to condense it’s richness into a mere two and a half hour production. There isn’t time for the depth of character needed to license the intense emotions and events that take place in the second half. Therefore, the actor’s emotions became comical (this was made evident by the unsure laughter of the A-level students sat behind me.)
In the design and use of set however were a stroke of genius. The scaffolding created the perfect metaphor for the English class system in the 1800. Right down to the space between the stage floor and the bottom level of the scaffold. Every poor sole who crawled beneath it became filthy from the dirt that covered the stage floor.
I also enjoyed their attempt to pantomime the class system (although it over shadowed the tone of the story), especially the ruling upper classes; through song and the lurid exposer of bums. Which was funny and to some extent effective in driving home Dicken’s views on the rich’s foolish treatment of the poor.
The actress who played poor Jo was also a saving grace in this production. She perfectly depicted the mannerisms of a young boy and managed to stay true them during moments of emotion. She allowed us a window into the Dickensian world through the eyes of a terrified and lost child.
Her performance truly highlighting the plight of the poor without deviating from the bleakness of the narrative and the depressing situations of the other characters. It was a beautiful performance to witness and was my favourite aspect of the performance.