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Let's talk about domestic abuse: 35 Times at Chapter Arts.

'Statistically, a woman suffers physical assault from a partner on average 35 TIMES before reporting it.'

Last night my film buddy and I headed to Chapter Arts to see 35 Times, a Mercury Theatre Wales production by Bethan Morgan. This performance is co-produced by RCT Theatres, a wonderful link to the area we live in, the most beautiful Llantrisant. 

The story follows six women attending Jules's Coffee Mornings; a place full of creativity, tea and biscuits but most importantly a safe place with those who are trying to survive.

We walked into the beautifully decorated theatre and noted the bright balloons, colourful bunting and tables adorned with tea-lights and delicious biscuits. We found some empty seats and watched as a couple ballroom danced around the room, ending in a harsh slap to the face and the beginning of the story…

Firstly, I adored the layout of the theatre, it felt like a very comforting space, with viewpoints from all the areas of the room. After the initial shock of the opening scene, the performance opens seemingly innocently, but soon tumbles into an array of stories, emotions and physical scenes between the cast. They cleverly positioned themselves amongst the audience, engaging with them and giving lots of eye contact, but never to a level where we felt uncomfortable.

Rasheeda Ali sat at our table in the beginning, and I thought she performed beautifully as the quiet and nervous Tara. When she explained her story it was through the use of a very compelling poem, and I thought it was beautifully written and powerfully performed. She spent some time writing out little notes and giving them to people on the table; each note had a fact about domestic abuse and this was ours…

My heart actually hurt as I read it. The facts are completely terrifying, and I just cannot imagine how it must feel to be so mentally and physically abused, from vicious comments to throwing objects to hurting someone to the point that they are hospitalised, I'll never quite get my head around it.

I think all the women stood out in so many ways, and even though I've never experienced domestic violence, I could completely relate to Gemma's character, performed by Catrin-Mai Huw. I thought her anger and semi-aggressive nature was perfectly performed and she held my attention from beginning to end. 

Each story unfolded and we heard very different tales, from rape to mental torture, the performance covered all areas of domestic abuse in a beautifully poignant way. The connection between the women felt so special and moving, and at the end of the performance we felt comfortable enough to join them in a dance around the room followed by tea and biscuits.

Six women. Six very different stories. Six different reactions. But each story covers the same theme: domestic abuse. A topic that is hidden, shooed away and not really talked about, a topic that makes people feel uncomfortable or makes people question whether it really does happen. Well the facts are there, this is a real thing, and our job is to support, nurture and speak out.

It's a deeply dark and honest portrayal of domestic abuse, a story that needs to be told. It holds hope, love and friendship within its core and that's not to be overlooked in any way during this performance.

Domestic abuse is topic is something we should all be discussing, supporting and creating strength in numbers…

I feel this play is something everyone should see, opening many eyes to the terror and fear women face every single day. 

 35 Times is running at Chapter until Saturday 15th July 2017 and tickets range from £10-12. The production is aimed at 16 years plus due to adult themes and use of language.

If you are suffering from domestic abuse and need to talk, here are numbers to call offering support: 

Strength in Numbers 01443400791 

Women's Aid: 08088010800

Disclosure: I received tickets in exchange for review. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.


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