At the funeral of her adopted mother, fifteen year old Peri finds herself in the care of Shira, her distant and religious grandmother. However, when Peri discovers an old wire recorder in Shira’s house and tries to repair it, Shira is forced to confront a past that she has long tried to repress…
Paradigm Lab’s Pink House (by Madison Pollack) serves as a quietly moving and humorous yet powerful look at how grief can be overcome and why it’s important not to let the ghosts of loved ones and the past die. The production’s use of minimal staging is effective, making use of minimal props and effects such as a pivotal wire recorder and a smoke machine to signify Shira’s long-repressed memories of her adolescence.
Pollack also skilfully uses Shira’s past to subtly allude to the discrimination and the oppression faced by the Jewish communities of Europe without making these themes overt, which would result in the personal and intimate nature of the main narrative being undermined.
The performances are impressive across the board, with Alice Jackson as Shira and Fatima Jawara as Peri particularly capturing their individual character’s struggles and how they try to overcome them. In particular, Shira’s dual bereavement of losing her daughter and family as well as her developing relationship with Peri shows how her character uses stoic adherence to faith to conceal her true feelings.
The character of Peri is also effectively shown to progress over the course of the play, with her changing attitudes towards her grandmother and Judaism being convincingly charted. In addition, Peri’s relationship with her birth mother and attempts to reconnect with her are also rendered in a subtly powerful manner, with the exchanges between the two favouring naturalism over heightened emotional line deliveries that could have tipped their scenes together over into cliched melodrama.
Pink House is a subtly poignant look at how the legacy of Old World Jewish identity and the importance of the relationships between women can span across multiple generations.