Too Much World At Once at HOME

“We should’ve seen this coming. We did. We did see this coming. The world will not be kind to us because we haven’t given it a reason to be.”

On his fifteenth birthday, Noble transforms into a bird. Thousands of miles away, his sister Cleo is stationed on a remote island with the British Antarctic Survey. The birds have disappeared. Noble needs to reach her. Lying low until it’s time to take flight, he finds solace in misfit Ellis while his mum Fiona desperately tries to stop their home from falling apart.

Ok, I’m going straight in. Every actor in the ensemble I would seek out to see perform again. Individually they were captivating. Collectively…well they were captivating.

With a script that walks a balanced line (perfectly so) between poetry, pathos and pop cultural references (it matters not of the year – that Deirdre Barlow throw-out was spot on), it was a meeting of talent where you couldn’t imagine one element without the others.

Too Much World At Once, a new play by Billie Collins which made its debut at HOME this week, is brought to us by Box of Tricks Theatre.

It’s one of those productions where you believed in the characters and in the snapshot of their lives you’d entered for those 105 minutes. Not one where you’re simply thinking how good the acting is. Your disbelief is duly suspended. And that’s no mean feat when one of your protagonists turns into a bird.

Or does he. I don’t know. I think I know. And in the end does it matter? It’s all just details. For the themes of the play all beautifully feed into each other, each providing an, at first sight, starkly different layer, which actually began to feel more nuanced as each sub-theme found its feet and made sense alongside the others.

We had coming of age, sexuality, love, mental health, fractured families, fractured houses, fractured environments, towns, islands, planets…and birds.

There was a strength to the characters as they fought against a world which was both physically and metaphorically falling apart around them. We witnessed a tipping point, impending doom – all achieved in the smaller Theatre 2 at HOME with nothing more than a couple of chairs and occasional table for props.

The energy that built in this performance from the understated beginnings to the frenetic finale was such that there was a takeaway that extended beyond polite conversation and positive noises as the audience made their way through the foyer.

As I never tire of saying, good theatre makes you feel something. Too Much World at Once made me feel a sense of urgency, sadness, resolve and immense gratitude that I live somewhere where access to great theatre is never more than a tram ride away.

Too Much World At Once is at HOME Mcr until 11 March 2023 – Click link for details and tickets:


Paddy Stafford

Alexandra Mathie

Evie Hargreaves

Ewan Grant

Creative team:

Director: Adam Quayle | Designer: Katie Scott |
Sound Designer & Composer: Lee Affen | Lighting Designer: Richard Owen |
Movement Director: Aiden Crawford | PM: Jack Opie |
TSM: Rob Athorn | CSM: Phoebe Delafaye |
Design Associate: Lucy Sneddon | Sustainability: Robin Lyons |
Associate Producer: Justina Aina | Marketing: Marcy Rick |
Assistant Producer: Arisha Marsh | AD Consultancy: Ben Wilson
Audio Description: Hear the Picture

Photo credits: Chris Payne

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