Boys town: Eyes Closed, Ears Covered @BunkerTheatreUK
In the year since opening, The Bunker at Southwark has established itself for new and experimental pieces. Alex Gwyther’s Eyes Closed, Ears Covered is no exception. It’s a dark and confusing world where laughs and kicking about is a cover for something more sinister.
It opens with an incident on the beach in Brighton in the late eighties. A boy’s been attacked and the police arrest two boys and question them about the events of the day.
The two boys questioned, Seb and Aaron, had planned the day for weeks. They’ve planned and saved enough money and are going to bunk off school. But something has gone horribly wrong.
There’s Aaron (Danny-Boy Hatchard), the cocky yet short-fused one. He’s got the plan to make it happen. And it was Seb’s (Joe Iris-Roberts) idea of the wide-eyed to visit his mum in Brighton. They seem like ten year olds as they bounce off each other and run about the stage recounting their mate ship.
But as they tell their stories separately neither seem to provide a credible account of the day. And a darker tale about loss and domestic violence beings to emerge.
In the second half, Seb’s mother Lily (Phoebe Thomas) appears as a flashback to the events before the beach. These events show her attempts to make life seem normal for her and Seb. Yet it becomes clear the dark and violent situation both characters were in.
The inspiration for this piece of new writing was after Gwyther observed two boys skipping school. But the piece builds to explore domestic violence and its wider impacts in a thoughtful and frank way.
It’s a slick production. Clever lighting and intense performances from the three cast members make the piece shocking and evocative. A disturbing and chilling new piece of writing.
Directed by Derek Anderson, Eyes Closed, Ears Covered is at the Bunker Theatre until 30 September.
Photos by Anton Belmonté