Eyes Closed, Ears Covered at the Bunker
In the hazy atmosphere of the Bunker Theatre, the confused stories of Eyes Closed, Ears Covered’s difficult protagonists slowly reveal their tragic twists. Playwright Alex Gwyther let two young boys on a train – presumably skipping school – inspire him to create a compelling script about mental health and domestic violence. The resulting play is an outstanding thriller, tense up to the end, with poignant remarks on friendship and the missed love that the youth is increasingly suffering.
Seb (Joe Idris-Roberts) and Aaron (Danny-Boy Hatchard) have been planning their little adventure to Brighton for a long time now. From notes scribbled on papers, to their hands perfectly cleaned, to the stolen money and saved changes, everything is ready.
A timid boy, Seb is bullied at school and finds in Aaron the caring and protective friend he has been missing since his mother (Phoebe Thomas) disappeared. Aaron is apparently stronger than his fellow, but equally suffering from violent and sudden behaviour changes. Between occasional outbursts and imaginary adventures, the pair reach the seaside, but the outcome is tragic.
The narrative moves back and forth between the past and the present, with a police interrogation alternating with the boys’ memories. The prompt and impactful lights and sounds make these passages flawless. Despite the bare stage of the underground theatre, the actors transport the audience to the seaside, make them travel on the train, let them breathe the heavy air in Seb’s house. Their well-studied gestures and movements are impressive.
A key role is played also by the powerful voiceovers. The sequences never feel empty, even with only two actors at a time on the stage. The dramatic consequences of missed attention towards the youth are broken up between the dialogues and the off-stage scenes.
Hatchard doesn’t disappoint with a great performance of his character’s personality disorder, and episodes of excessive anger and violence. He builds the crescendo of the first act, leaving the brilliant Phoebe Thomas to match up the pieces of the jigsaw in the second part.
The story keeps its strong hold on the audience, without becoming too heavy, thanks to the occasional laughs cracking here and there. Derek Anderson has directed a well-balanced piece with occasional tender moments relieving the tension, and which has plenty of reflections for us to bring home.
Photo: Anton Belmonté
Eyes Closed, Ears Covered is at the Bunker from 6th until 30th September 2017. For further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for Eyes Closed, Ears Covered here: