OFS reviewer and volunteer usher Lucy saw And I’ll Blow Your House Down, July 2022.
And I’ll Blow Your House Down is an honest, heartfelt and at-times hilarious play about family disability. It explores diagnoses that can turn your world on its head and the ever-present big bad wolf, who lurks around the corner in everybody’s lives, in a plethora of different disguises, diagnoses and dangers. The ever-present threats just waiting to rip your world apart; to explode; to blow our houses down.
Georgie Steele’s one-woman show is searing and livid. She owns the stage from start to end. Her presence is mesmerising: she controls our attention, delights in different impressions and brings bang-on accounts of ‘professional’ condescension. She is often humorous, but the load is still heavy, and she takes us into it. She makes us laugh, she makes us cry and she makes us feel. Her performance is physical, it takes us on a journey. We are swept up into the maze of true life experience and the facts within fables – the mess, the mud and the marvels of it…
The Three Little Pigs is a well known fairy tale. It is often told to children and even taught in schools in the UK and elsewhere. Behind these tales (certainly with this one), there is often a message. And I’ll Blow Your House Down examines this in a personal way. Through the frame of The Three Little Pigs, a story which many of us know inside out, she teaches us a new message and a different interpretation. It’s sort of a fact that we digest info much easier if it’s shoved in a story. This play utilises this. Steele shifts between modes: a buoyant and sparkling re-telling of the fable and a candid and touching account of many of her own family’s struggles. The transitions between these are like lightning – you can barely catch your breath. Like a game, it catches you unaware. The effect is almost disorientating, but in a good way. It leaves you catching up… gulping for air, in an imitation of life.
But the two are related. The fable corresponds to life events, it is metaphorical. The Three Little Pigs is rich in symbolism. We are Bigsey, Stigsey and Gloria – we all must try and make a life as best we can, not ‘fall’ into temptation (in whatever its myriad of forms) or stray into the path of the big, bad wolf (everything negative – again, in all its myriad of forms and ways). Truthfully, it’s easier to succumb (Bigsey is prey to the big shining city. The Steele’s have left it), but eventually… with willpower, faith and determination… The thick, dense and imposing woods grow sparser, the light shines down more and more… You rise to the challenge. You own it.
The big bad wolf hides everywhere. He’s in medical conditions, he’s in the institutions which govern us. He is in incomprehensible forms, he’s in impossible directions for money: he means it can’t be used. He is ignorant people, he is ‘The S.S’, he is jumping through hoops for bureaucracy (or not, and detailing why, in their terms). He gets us when we’re vulnerable, when our house is made of straw. He will huff and puff and devour us. But we don’t have to let him.
Gloria’s house is too strong for the big, bad wolf. It is made with bricks and love and friendship. It is made with cooperation. This is the same for Georgie’s. Her family lives in their house of bricks, suited and adapted for their own personal needs. They love each other, relish in their company, and tell the stories which got them there, which in turn are a charm that act as a guard… and the big bad wolf can blow all he likes, his puffing doesn’t get him anywhere.