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Nastazja Domaradzka

Review: BULLET HOLE at Park Theatre

Bullet Hole - Park Theatre The annual statistical publication for FGM (female genital mutilation) shows that during the 2016-2017 period there were over 5,391 newly recorded cases of FGM in England alone. These statistics are horrific and the subject matter is not even close to getting the attention it needs.

I feel like it is almost one of those taboo subjects that many artists are too afraid to touch. Shortlisted for the Alfred Fagon Audience Award in 2017 BULLET HOLE, which currently plays at the Park theatre, deals with the FGM issue with harrowing honesty through Gloria Williams’ beautiful words.

Cleo (Gloria Williams herself), Eve (Doreen Blackstock) and Aunt Winnie (Anni Domingo) share a house together, or so it seems. There is a temporary atmosphere about this set up. The women seem to be in the waiting for something. A new life; a life without their scars and pain, also known as “the gift” or, in Aunt Winnie case a life where her actions remain unchallenged and accepted. 

Gloria Williams’ writing offers a lot in terms of building a rich and emotionally engaging world. She does not shy away from making the audience confront what can only be described as acts of cruelty and ensures that her characters are not one dimensional. The ending of BULLET HOLE seems still in development as I question whether Williams’ message is that of empowerment or resignation. 

Unfortunately Lara Genovese’s direction does not allow for the painful openness of Williams’ writing to be executed in any responsible way. Too much attention seems to have been put on stage directions rather than honouring the beautiful humane moments that could make BULLET HOLE the really powerful and unforgettable piece it has the potential to be. There is a certain lack of rhythm in the piece and it never offers any form of relief from the tragedy happening on stage.

(As always) Rajiv Pattani’s lighting design creates another layer that adds to the piece, introducing a very clear yet subtle delicate language to the play and compliments Lara Genovese’s literal design. 

The cast of three works really well together and gives a solid although at times a bit too ‘emoted’ performances. Williams’ vulnerability is soaring and heart-breaking to watch. Anni Domingo is phenomenal and mesmerising as Aunt Winnie, switching between emotions and objectives as she creates a fully rounded character.

The most mesmerising aspect of BULLET HOLE is Williams’ ability to write unapologetically and truthfully about such a taboo subject. The honesty of her writing is what makes her someone to watch.