Four Benches, four people, all seeing a different view. Phillip Ridley’s ‘Leaves of Glass’ playing at Park Theatre presents a haunting depiction of grief and how it affects people in different ways. The play centers around two brothers, Steve and Barry, seemingly these brothers are polar opposite. Steve (portrayed by Ned Costello) is introduced to us as a perfectly dressed rational young man who is clearly successful in his business, whereas Barry (portrayed by Joseph Potter) literally falls onto the stage, is an alcoholic, and begins by rambling about a ghost in his first scene. The brothers are joined onstage by their coddling but seemingly wilfully oblivious mum Liz (portrayed by Kacey Ainsworth) alongside Steve’s partner Debbie (portrayed by Katie Buchholz).

Taking advantage of the theatre's small space, using minimal stage lighting and props, you feel as though you are watching the family from a few feet away and are instantly submerged into their world of reflected and warped truths. The play is set out in this way as well. Primarily with relatively short bursts of dialogue, usually between two characters revealing different memories of events, particularly from the brothers' childhood. As mentioned, the play is largely centered around Steve and Barry, one trying to forget his trauma and the other coming to terms with it. After finding out that Steve and Debbie are going to have a baby, the glass surrounding their life seems to crack.

Similarities and reflections between the brothers can be seen throughout the play as more is revealed, building up to a startling scene between them in a candlelit basement. Truths come out and things that have been buried since childhood start to be revealed, leaving the audience watching with bated breath. The play is full of poetic language and themes that carry throughout its entirety. In the opening scene there are various mentions of glass and trees all seeming to describe and reflect the family on stage. Each character presents their own truths and after an explosive ending, when everything is quiet, do we then learn the truth? Early on, Barry says ‘If we stick together, we can beat mister ghost’, I strongly suggest going over to Park theater and seeing if they did.

The moment I left the theater, I wanted to turn back around and watch this play again. The intimacy of the stage, the phenomenal acting by all four characters, and the exquisite language made this play an absolute must-see production.

Photo credit: Mark Senior