House with a Sunken Garden Review

ATYP’s reviewing program was created to give young people a platform to voice their opinions and experiences while developing skills in critical reflection. The views expressed are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of ATYP or its staff.


The inimitable Joan Didion once wrote in Slouching Towards Bethlehem that “one of the mixed blessings of being 20 and 21 and even 23 is the conviction that nothing like this, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, has ever happened to anyone before.”

Olive Weeks in House with a Sunken Garden, 2023.

Not that the show is interested in these, and in some ways, this is also its gift. Weeks is a captivating performer, with a vocal quality you’d find on a meditation track, and an ability to invite us to journey through her memories with only a smirk, far-off glance or knowing eyebrow raise. Akbal’s score is mesmerising, though sometimes lends itself too frequently to a moody melancholy that flattens the work, and Weeks is at her strongest when letting her killer sense of humour, fiery temper and comedic timing shine.

Olive Weeks in House with a Sunken Garden, 2023.

From song lyrics shared with strangers on trams to detailing the artwork on your bedroom wall, House is an ode to romanticising one’s life. To search constantly for something of meaning and beauty in the ordinary and overlooked. Though the experience of trams, grocery shopping or scenic look-outs that populated the hour-long poem mightn’t stay with me, it’s a work that encourages us instead, as the program articulates, “to find quiet joy” in our own intimate lives. As I sat down after to write this review, I couldn’t help but feel I had accepted the invitation, that I was tuning in to something simpler and gentler, and looking at my own share-house through the fresh eyes of a twenty-something to whom nothing like this had ever happened before.

Emmanuelle, 22 [she/they]

House with a Sunken Garden played at The Blender Studios until the 26th of November. See details here.