by Noel Hodda

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by Noel Hodda

Glen, accompanied by his sister Sissy, returns to the family home on the outskirts of town occupied by their father Ken and mother Cath. All is not well.

The family re-unites, bound by ritual humour and ceremony. It is Glen’s birthday but no-one seems to be celebrating despite the cake on the table and the cups of tea and glasses of whisky that follow.

When they all turn in for the night the play begins an exploration of the past. In a series of time-fractured scenes we meet Patrick, Glen’s identical twin brother, and witness the antagonism and resentment that lies beneath the surface in this seemingly benign family environment. The family prepares for a funeral and we discover that it is Patrick’s. We witness Glen return home a year before for the funeral of his twin brother to be met by a family in denial and inarticulate in the face of overwhelming grief felt at the fact that this brother committed suicide. We share the nightmare of autopsy, the emptiness of despair and the lost and confused hope and humanity of those left behind.

The dawn comes – the morning after the opening scene of the night before – to reveal Cath ordering and re-ordering her memories and mementos. The secrets of the house have been revealed overnight as the family slept. The juxtaposed anniversary of birthday and death prompts re-evaluation by some and creates a space for hope and change.

Although dealing with death and grief, The Secret House is cut through with a sharp layer of humour as the family lives their lives together, falling back on old stories and customs to keep their world alive.

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Recommended for community theatre

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