Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Coliseum Arts Centre / Romanian Cultural Institute
Verbatim theatre is about sharing the facts and presenting the stories of those directly impacted by the subject matter, using those stories alone as the basis to create a piece of theatre. M House is a piece of verbatim exploring the sensitive issue of domestic violence, and is performed entirely in Romanian. Prior to seeing this production, it was possible that this fact alone would be a hinderance to the success of the work, in-fact, upon reflection it had the exact opposite impact.
With stories that are accompanied by blunt and matter of fact surtitles, M House places the fact very much at the centre of the work. Seeing facts and retellings of beatings and psychological abuses in black and white print, whilst listening to the same story being retold and understanding the impact it had on the victim in their native language, leads the audience to investing in the work, and as such has a deeply affecting impact.
There are some strange visual metaphors incorporated into the work, which perhaps were unnecessary, for example a veiled dead chicken. These, will speak to certain members of the audience, but the show could have gone ahead without them. In saying that though, the use of a stationary bicycle being ridden but not going anywhere, was a powerful image illustrating these women continue to live but cannot leave there situations. The difference here between this visual metaphor and the others was it was rooted in the stories, the women consistently stated that they can’t leave the environments they find themselves in, whether is because of shame or otherwise.
The writing of this piece gives each of the stories told a unique and defined voice, it punctuates this with moments of more poetic language, capturing the tone and atmosphere of how these women feel emotionally. This is an intelligent and well structured piece of writing, it is sensitive to the issues raised, and recounts the facts in an intellectually stimulating and emotionally captivating. M House may well leave its audience feeling drained, but educated and aware, which is exactly what is is created to do.