Living Together/Oxford Playhouse/May 15
This design for Living Together, the middle play of Ayckbourn’s Norman Conquest trilogy, was created for a student production company for the Oxford playhouse in May 2015. The show deviated from the traditional minimal setting of Ayckbourn’s productions and instead required a design that built the entire house surrounding the central living-room setting. This enabled the production to show snippets of speech and action from the two other plays of the trilogy and explore the actions of the characters in-between the main scenes. The naturalistic performance style was mirrored in the detailed set; a rambling and deteriorating country house in the 70s. Broken walls and open doorways meant that the audience could observe the characters as they moved around the house whilst also seeing into the character’s childhood bedrooms - decorated to match the personalities of the characters that were developed within rehearsal. The two-story set also enabled the character of the Mother to be introduced into the play - ever-present in her bedroom, eavesdropping on the various conflicts that occurred. These additional playing spaces gave a voyeuristic feel to the performance as they meant that the characters were constantly onstage - including preset and interval - allowing the directors to move beyond the boundaries of the script to develop characters and create additional comic moments.
‘a rambling, country house, perfectly presented in its shabby gentility in Abby Clarke’s design.’ Oxford Times
'[the set's] brilliance lies in the way we catch glimpses of characters moving around in other rooms, chatting or, more commonly, arguing.' The Reviews Hub
Directors - Griff Rees and Laura Cull
Designer- Abby Clarke
Lighting Designer- Clara Halse