Home » Reviews » Off West End » What Goes On in Front of Closed Doors, King’s Head Theatre – Review
Credit: Caz Dyer
Credit: Caz Dyer

What Goes On in Front of Closed Doors, King’s Head Theatre – Review

Pros: Emma Bentley is an engaging storyteller.

Cons: The use of a webcam doesn’t add much to the narrative.

Pros: Emma Bentley is an engaging storyteller. Cons: The use of a webcam doesn't add much to the narrative. A young woman comes out of bed fully-dressed and wearing her shoes. Her cheeks are flushed and she addresses the audience directly. Molly, this is her name, has found an old VCR where her father is teaching her how to ride a bike and we can see it playing on her computer screen. As a teenager and young adult, she found it difficult to connect with her peers and describes her first sexual experience as an occasional event that was…

Summary

rating

Excellent

An honest account of the simple steps that can lead to homelessness.

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A young woman comes out of bed fully-dressed and wearing her shoes. Her cheeks are flushed and she addresses the audience directly. Molly, this is her name, has found an old VCR where her father is teaching her how to ride a bike and we can see it playing on her computer screen.

As a teenager and young adult, she found it difficult to connect with her peers and describes her first sexual experience as an occasional event that was carried out more as a necessity than for pleasure. This seems to affect her future relationships, where partners are depicted as a temporary fix.

With her father cutting all connections many years back, her mother has a central role in Molly’s life, dispensing advice on every aspect of it. Her manipulative influence becomes one of the main causes for the young girl’s doomed choices.

Towards the end of college, the future is bright in her mind. After joining the school’s orchestra as a flautist, she wishes to pursue a career in music technology and university appears as a natural progression towards that goal.

How does it happen, then, that a few decisions later she finds herself homeless and with nobody in the world?

Beautifully impersonated by Emma Bentley, this one-woman show invites the audience to plough through the events that lead to Molly’s downfall, trying to understand how simple steps and inevitable diversions can send a person to the wrong path.

Childhood episodes, as much as mere misjudgement are candidly narrated, gradually adding weight on young shoulders that aren’t quite prepared to sustain it. We can’t tell how much of this is autobiographic, but it surely it feels this way. An open-hearted confession with no culprits but an innocent victim.

What Goes On in Front of Closed Doors raises many questions on the support that bereaved youngsters receive in the most vulnerable phases of their lives. Whilst witnessing her breakdown, we are compelled to find reasons why society lets youth go to waste, offering temporary remedies, rather than troubleshooting the causes.

On a human level, we are presented with challenging survival dilemmas, like approaching potentially dangerous strangers to get some food or exchange sex for a warm shower and a bed. Drugs and alcohol are used to get numb in a desperate situation, but cause even more damage.

To support the essential staging, the creative team relies on the use of video clips, either pre-recorded or broadcast live with the help of a webcam. Currently considered a raising trend on stage, this device can contribute to shape a multi-layered narrative, although, in this specific occasion, it feels at times redundant or even distracting.

Emma Bentley’s truthful portrayal of a young girl’s drama is devoid of rhetoric or political nuances but is charged with the urgency and relevance of the times of spiking homelessness we live in.

Written by: Calum Finlay and Emma Bentley

Director: Katharina Reinthaller

Producer: joue le genre and Noel Gay Artists

Booking Information: This show has now completed its run

About Marianna Meloni

Marianna Meloni
Marianna, being Italian, has an opinion on just about everything and believes that anything deserves an honest review. Her dream has always been to become an arts critic and, after collecting a few degrees, she realised that it was easier to start writing in a foreign language than finding a job in her home country. In the UK, she tried the route of grown-up employment but soon understood that the arts and live events are highly addictive.