Shams Theatre, The Garden

Review in Issue 18-4 | Winter 2006

Centring on one man’s return from the war-torn Balkan region, and investigating his past and that of his family, The Garden is a complex and genuinely thought-provoking piece of theatre. Tightly packed with ideas and interwoven themes, the piece sees the single performer interact with a variety of simple objects and beautifully projected images to tell this central story together with a historical parallel, with glimpses of what feels like dozens of others. Constantly inventive, the performance sees Jonathan Young play two doctors engaged in an argument; a policeman and suspect; a very old woman… Perhaps, though, we do not always get enough of the characters to be able to fully sympathise with them, and some feel more closely observed than others.

It is particularly satisfying, however, to be an audience to a piece of original theatre which has explored all its own avenues; there are no loose ends forgotten in the excitement of moving on, no hangovers from previous versions. The recurring metaphor of the garden ties the piece together, and the action buds and blossoms with great moments, like the viva which turns into an explanation of the student’s own brain; the drawing which appears, simultaneously projected as it is sketched; the rainstorm in a watering can. Perspective is flipped, and objects transform with easy assurance. In such an intimate space, I sometimes wanted to be more included, for the fourth wall to be a little more tumbledown and full of chinks. But the piece feels mature and assured, a thorough exploration both of the form and of its subjects.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Aug 2006

This article in the magazine

Issue 18-4
p. 24