The Glass Mountain

Trestle Theatre
Unity Theatre
9th-10th October 2009

Reviewed by Mari Jones

There is an old Polish fairytale about a king who kept his daughter on top of a glass mountain to protect her, where she waited for one man who could climb to the top and rescue her. From theatre group Trestle comes a play currently touring the UK called The Glass Mountain, which mixes this fairytale with a modern day story.

A group of Polish people travel from their home country to London seeking work or visiting their loved ones who have already moved there. Olek (Jacek Wytrzymaly) is among this group, who is leaving the girl he loves behind. In Olek’s mind he sees her on top of the glass mountain of the story, waiting in vain for him to return to her.

The performances are all realistic, making the story all the more poignant and moving, and occasionally funny. The set design is very creative, with ladders of different sizes cleverly representing the glass mountain itself. Interpretive dance is also used to great effect to create a dreamlike state throughout. The actors often burst into songs sung in Polish as well to give the same dramatic effect. However the songs seem to clash with the story itself, becoming distracting and in hindsight could be seen as time fillers, which could also be said about the interpretive dance.

The modern day issues of immigration and the prejudices the Polish face for migrating are quite importantly highlighted though, showing their side of the story and enabling us to sympathise with them. The idea to reflect a contemporary story in the fairytale of The Glass Mountain is also interesting and makes for a fascinating watch. So while it is a sad and thought provoking tale, the songs – although beautiful – are off-putting, making you aware you are watching a play and therefore lessening its impact, a real shame as it is such an inspired production about Poland, immigration, and love.

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