Eyes Closed, Ears Covered, 4 Stars

Eyes Closed, Ears Covered
The Bunker
6th to 30th Sept 2017

“Eyes Closed, Ears Covered by Alex Gwyther’s (Our Friends, The Enemy) tells the brutal and heartfelt story of two teenage boys as they head to Brighton with a daring plan to relive a special day from four years ago. The world premiere of this darkly funny and painfully tender play will be directed by 2015 What’s On Stage award winner, Derek Anderson (Sweeney Todd, Twickenham Theatre).
One in five children in the UK have been exposed to domestic violence. Eyes Closed, Ears Covered explores the repercussions of traumatic events at home and the direct effects these can have on mental health. EastEnders’ star Danny-Boy Hatchard, Joe Idris-Roberts (Forty Years On, Chichester Festival Theatre) and Phoebe Thomas (Hetty Feather, Vaudeville Theatre, The Rose Theatre Kingston and UK Tour), will form the original cast of this gripping thriller.
Woking 1986. Monday morning. Seb and Aaron have been planning this day for weeks. They’ve written their sick notes. They’ve skimped, saved, scraped and stolen the money where they can. They’re actually doing it. They’re bunking the day off school.
The poignant play was conceived after playwright Alex Gwyther witnessed two young boys playing truant; the seed of an idea was sewn and Gwyther researched child trauma and psychology to help understand the mindsets of those who had experienced harrowing ordeals. Eyes Closed, Ears Covered aims to raise awareness of the growing scale of domestic violence against women and children and explores the failure of a child’s mind to process their past.”

Aaron Danny-Boy Hatchard
Seb Joe Idris-Roberts
Lily Phoebe Thomas

Review by Richard Lambert, 4 Stars

The word “startling” applies to the start of “Eyes Closed, Ears Covered!” 35 x Colour Changing downlight fixtures snap on sync’d to the Sound Effect and you’re into the show! A real attention grabber! Alyson Cummins‘ Set and Norvydas Genys‘ lighting are strikingly good! Perfectly meshed and perfect for the underground Bunker venue.

It’s a young cast and a young audience with a few older folks who all appear to be remarkably well dressed. The Bunker does seem to attract a fashionista crowd while staying off the radar of the plastic-bag-shopping tourist crowd. It’s a place to be seen at. Just around the corner from the wonderful Flat Iron Square bar and restaurant zone.

The play trudges through the 1st half with very little story. Despite great acting from the 2 boys punctuated with Sound Effects and lighting Effects, not a lot happens outside of a train journey to Brighton. However, the 2nd half is where it’s at – the story of domestic abuse and the effect this has on the actions of those around is dramatically told.

Some lovely occasional video effects enhance the production. One effect being the brilliant magical appearance of Phoebe Thomas playing Lily. Although this effect would have been improved with a video mask so the image wasn’t directly projected onto Lily herself.

Typically at Press Night there are technical hitches and unfortunately the gremlins were here also. With 2 of the colour changers almost always in a different colour they really pulled the attention. Also with constant haze for the show, the focus of the 35 downlights could do with a tweak as they were out of line and higgledy piggledy. However I’m sure these teething problems will be resolved.

(Photo Credit Anton Belmonté)

Following the show there is generally a band or some other reason to stay and socialise in the venue. A recommended night out with the in-crowd at the Bunker while enjoying this gripping drama! You don’t “just see a show” at the Bunker – it’s also an experience!

Writer Alex Gwyther
Director Derek Anderson
Set and Costume Designer Alyson Cummins
Music & Sound Jon McLeod
Lighting and Video Designer Norvydas Genys
Production Manager James Anderton
Casting Lucy Jenkins CDG and Sooki McShane CDG
Production Assistant Penny Babakhani

@BunkerTheatreUK #EyesClosedLDN

The ethos of The Bunker is all about nurturing a performance environment in which audiences can stay after the show to enjoy events, discussions and drinks in the auditorium. Alongside Eyes Closed, Ears Covered, there will be post-show events for every performance including dance responses, spoken word responses, music, director and producer panels. Details of the post-show events will be announced shortly.

Producer Joel Fisher for The Bunker Theatre and Alfred Taylor-Gaunt

Location The Bunker, 53A Southwark Street London SE1 1RU

How to get there The nearest tube station is London Bridge (Borough High Street exit). Turn left out of the station and continue up Southwark Street. The closest rail station is London Bridge.

Box Office Tickets are available priced £19.50 (£15 concessions)

Preview on Monday 15th May priced at £12.
Ten £10 tickets are available at each performance for under 25s. Purchase from http://bunkertheatre.com/ and 0207 234 0486.

The Bunker Theatre
The Bunker is an Off-West End theatre housed in a former underground parking garage in London Bridge. The space has been transformed from its original abandoned state into a unique 110-seater studio theatre to house plays, musicals, dance, music, and a host of other performances.
With four concrete pillars marking out the thrust performance space, an eclectic mix of audience seating on three sides of the stage, and a snug bar tucked into the corner of the venue, The Bunker has a unique character of its own.

The Bunker believes in theatre with purpose, providing a home in which ambitious artists can share their work with adventurous audiences. The relationship between audience and artist is at the forefront of the work that The Bunker programmes, and this interaction extends beyond just the performance itself. The doors to The Bunker open an hour before a show so audiences can grab a drink, find a seat, and explore the space of the theatre. The Bunker also plays host to a variety of post-show events that are inspired by the main house production, including dance responses, plays in development, and spoken word pieces. The Bunker is a place to pitch up early and to stay late into the night, where you can be entertained but also have the opportunity to discuss and debate what you have seen that night.

Alex Gwyther
Alex Gwyther is a writer, actor and poet. His first show Our Friends, The Enemy enjoyed sold out shows at the New Wimbledon Theatre and Edinburgh Fringe before embarking on two UK Tours in 2014. In 2015, it transferred to Theatre Row, New York where it was warmly received by the New York. His second show THE COST OF A PLAYER was commissioned by the Premier League to tackle mental health in footballers, which is touring all football clubs in the league. His work has been published by Oberon and Burning Eye and has featured on XFM and BBC Radio 2.

Derek Anderson
Derek studied Film and Television Production at the North East College of Scotland followed by Theatre Production from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.
On his directing debut, Derek won the 2015 Whats On Stage Award for Best Off-West End Production for Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Twickenham Theatre. The critically acclaimed production starring Olivier Award winner David Bedella in the title role was also nominated for Best Musical Revival.
Derek also directed the sell-out productions of Kander and Ebb’s musical CABARET and THE PILLOWMAN by Martin McDonagh, both for ACT Aberdeen. Recently he directed INTO THE WOODS by Stephen Sondheim for Stowe Arts. Forthcoming productions include Stephen Sondheim’s COMPANY at ACT Aberdeen and HAND TO GOD at the English Theatre Frankfurt.