Gloucester Guildhall
Thursday 9th May 2019

Gloucester currently is what would be known as a culture coldspot; there isn’t a constant running theatre in its city, so most people interested in the arts would rather be seen flocking to Bristol, Birmingham, or Cheltenham, just a stones throw away. It’s the hope that I came away from tonight thought, seeing such a variety of audience members, from youth theatre participants to the more mature adults in the room, descending on Gloucester Guildhall to watch Viv Gordon’s Oral, that gives us a taste and vision of what we can gain from such a powerful and sensitive piece of theatre that Gordon has created, and will hopefully spark further the imagination of the audience.

Out of respect for the subject matter and how Viv draws upon her experiences that has been moulded together carefully to create this stunning piece of a poetic masterpiece, to give this production a star rating would seem almost insensitive, ultimately not feeling educated enough in sexual violence to comment on where the ranking would be. What can be said though is every person in the room will absolutely walk away knowing something that they might not have known before; there are over 11 million victims of childhood sexual abuse, which is staggering, and hearing just one story and perspective on that statistic is an eye-opener.

Alongside Gemma Prangle and David Reakes, Viv moves coherently between settings and scenes that tease but don’t pry too much into the overall arc in which she collectively achieves by the final moment of her production, which she has collaboratively devised within the company, whilst Rebecca Wood’s set design brings the whole piece tightly together with a striking vision, one that will leave you with multiple interpretations of, something not usually found in theatre. Though at times Robbie Butler’s lighting can be seen as jarring, when really looking into just how courageous Viv Gordon is to lay her story and experiences bare for an audience to unknowingly travel through and follow with her, in the grand scheme of the production this can be let slide, though a more stable and less distracting design would be encouraged.

Overall, Oral is a compelling and thought-provoking production, and a beginning of what will hopefully be a movement of change, something which Viv encouraging advised within the post discussion talk of this new piece of work for her company, that will open up a safe space and more acknowledgement into the serious and sensitive topics which are tenderly told on stage.


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