This latest offering from St Albans-based Trestle Theatre Company combines a Polish myth with contemporary stories of migration. Olek (Jacek Wytrzymaly) is a Polish baker who has boarded a bus for a new life in England but is riddled with the guilt of leaving the one he loves behind.
Katherina Radeva’s set design is littered with symbolism to life with apples being used as references to the ‘sweet’ and ‘sour’ aspects and step ladders acting as mountains to climb both in a physical and metaphorical sense. In fact, a chandelier of apples remain in light throughout to remind the audience they are significant to the themes of the play.
We’re first introduced to the passengers of the bus. A mother (Kate Lush) who is visiting her middle-aged son (and male partner) in England, a father (Sean Garratt) working to send ‘the £50 notes’ back to Poland but wishing he could be with his family, and an immaculately dressed, attractive, young woman (Lenka Rozehnalova), wanting to make the most of the City high life.
Dialogue is sometimes in Polish but not that difficult to understand, while choreographed movement and music drive the action fluidly from scene to scene. The Glass Mountain (Szklana Góra) is a Polish fable about a king and queen who, despite loving her deeply, sent their daughter to the top of a mountain – The Glass Mountain – where she would stay until ‘the one’ man could find her and marry her. The story comes through Olek’s dream-like state with Lush and Garratt playing king and queen respectively and Rozehnalova the daughter.
Rozehnalova has delicacy in her movement and shows vulnerability in the daughter, while Lush brings out the comedy aspects of the show through a number of roles including a male chauvinist bus driver and cockney ‘chancer’ who, together with her friends, played by Rozehnalova and Garratt, climb this mysterious Polish mountain for self-satisfaction and greed only to fall to their fate.
The play is a combination of Eastern and Western theatre techniques uniting director Emily Gray, artistic director of Trestle, and writer Anna Reynolds, with Poland’s Teatr Pieœñ Kozla (Song of the Goat) members to tell the story. It works largely but had its peculiar moments - an Indian-style of chanting being one – during the explaining of the Polish myth.
Nonetheless, the hour-long performance is a good evening of theatrical entertainment.