Joe Marsh’s play explores the complications that surround Prevent: the highly criticised educational strategy that aims to stop young people becoming terrorists.
It tells the story of ex-teacher Rebecca (Josephine Arden) who is struggling to cope with the events that unfolded in her classroom and have impacted on her life ever since. Rebecca looks to heal her wounds by getting in touch with the people she feels were responsible for them, Jamilah (Alma Eno), her former head of year and Amina (Naima Swaleh), a disruptive student.
Marsh uses a series of flashbacks to examine the implications of a whistle-blowing culture in an under-funded education system. Lilac Yosiphon’s production is well thought out, focusing on the haunting dreams and severe anxiety that disrupt the play at regular intervals like a school bell.
Nicola Chang’s sound design is piercing and unforgiving. Combined with Will Monks’ sharp projections on a pane of glass, they create a sense of a society at breaking point. While at times these effects deliver moments of real tension, more often than not they distract from the nuances of the work.
Eno and Swaleh are both excellent, particularly in the play’s stiller moments. Arden has a harder job and the overblown emotion of some of her scenes jar with the rest of the production.
The Glass Will Shatter is a provocative play that explores pertinent political ideas in a deft and informative way. The play shines when Arden and Eno are on stage together, wrestling with semantics while attempting to settle grievances that had been buried in the past. The scenes between Amina and Rebecca are less delicately crafted in comparison and, in these moments, the play feels a little baggy and didactic.