Let’s talk about domestic abuse: 35 Times at Chapter Arts.

‘Statistically, a
woman suffers physical assault from a partner on average 35 TIMES
before reporting it.’

Last night my film
buddy and I headed to Chapter Arts to see 35 Times, a Mercury Theatre
Wales production by Bethan Morgan. This performance is co-produced by
RCT Theatres, a wonderful link to the area we live in, the most
beautiful Llantrisant. 

The story follows
six women attending Jules’s Coffee Mornings; a place full of
creativity, tea and biscuits but most importantly a safe place with
those who are trying to survive.

We walked into the
beautifully decorated theatre and noted the bright balloons,
colourful bunting and tables adorned with tea-lights and delicious
biscuits. We found some empty seats and watched as a couple ballroom
danced around the room, ending in a harsh slap to the face and the
beginning of the story…

Firstly, I adored
the layout of the theatre, it felt like a very comforting space, with
viewpoints from all the areas of the room. After the initial shock of
the opening scene, the performance opens seemingly innocently, but
soon tumbles into an array of stories, emotions and physical scenes
between the cast. They cleverly positioned themselves amongst the
audience, engaging with them and giving lots of eye contact, but
never to a level where we felt uncomfortable.

Rasheeda Ali sat at
our table in the beginning, and I thought she performed beautifully
as the quiet and nervous Tara. When she explained her story it was
through the use of a very compelling poem, and I thought it was
beautifully written and powerfully performed. She spent some time
writing out little notes and giving them to people on the table; each
note had a fact about domestic abuse and this was ours…
 
My heart actually
hurt as I read it. The facts are completely terrifying, and I just
cannot imagine how it must feel to be so mentally and physically
abused, from vicious comments to throwing objects to hurting someone
to the point that they are hospitalised, I’ll never quite get my head
around it.

I think all the
women stood out in so many ways, and even though I’ve never
experienced domestic violence, I could completely relate to Gemma’s
character, performed by Catrin-Mai Huw. I thought her anger and
semi-aggressive nature was perfectly performed and she held my
attention from beginning to end. 
Each story unfolded
and we heard very different tales, from rape to mental torture, the
performance covered all areas of domestic abuse in a beautifully
poignant way. The connection between the women felt so special and
moving, and at the end of the performance we felt comfortable enough
to join them in a dance around the room followed by tea and biscuits.

Six women. Six very
different stories. Six different reactions. But each story covers the
same theme: domestic abuse. A topic that is hidden, shooed away and
not really talked about, a topic that makes people feel uncomfortable
or makes people question whether it really does happen. Well the
facts are there, this is a real thing, and our job is to support,
nurture and speak out.

It’s a deeply dark
and honest portrayal of domestic abuse, a story that needs to be
told. It holds hope, love and friendship within its core and that’s
not to be overlooked in any way during this performance.

Domestic abuse is
topic is something we should all be discussing, supporting and
creating strength in numbers…

I feel this play is something everyone should see, opening many eyes to the terror and fear women face every single day. 

 35 Times is running at Chapter until Saturday 15th July 2017 and tickets range from £10-12. The production is aimed at 16 years plus due to adult themes and use of language.

If you are suffering from domestic abuse and need to talk, here are numbers to call offering support: 

Strength in Numbers 01443400791 

Women’s Aid: 08088010800

Disclosure: I received tickets in exchange for review. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.
 

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