‘Grief and love are forever intertwined,’ wrote Nick Cave recently. Noel Hodda’s play ‘The Sculpture Garden’ brings this powerful truth right into the room. It’s a moving journey through great love and deep grief, interweaving the lives and emotional journeys of four people over alternating time periods spanning 25 years.

 

From the first scene, which gives us a glimpse of a huge and resonating event, we travel their roads with them, sharing both their mess and their moments of clarity and self-awareness – moments we all experience in life in our own ways. These are people struggling for sustained connection, optimistic or defeated, at times giving up but not entirely.

 

Directing ‘The Sculpture Garden’, Bob Philippe once again shows his empathy and great skill in bringing a complex drama and challenging themes to life. Karen Jones, Ross Fletcher and Charlie Kessler bring us convincing, sensitive portrayals of wounded adults, with finely judged support from Karen Toohey. In contrast, Rod Sinnamon as young Peter and Siobhan Turrell as Camille and Claire, uplift us with their joie de vivre and wonder. In two challenging roles, slipping effortlessly between French and French-accented English, Siobhan is completely convincing.

 

I love the sparse staging and design and the clever use of backdrop images: the contrasts between Paris, a blank canvas for young love, with the stark hospital ward and its sense of entrapment, and the sculptor’s unkempt quarters, an isolation ward of his own choosing.

 

As we’ve come to expect, well-judged choices of music add emotional weight, and technically the production is outstanding. This is another very fine production from Valley Artists, and deserves to be sold out. Don’t miss it.

 

Thank you to Bronwyn Duncan for this wonderful review. Our remaining performances of ‘The Sculpture Garden’ are from 8pm tonight Wednesday 14th, Thursday 15th, Friday 16th and Saturday 17th November.