On at The Hope Theatre (London)
Until July 22nd 2017
I can understand why No Offence theatre would want to give BJ McNeil’s new work a second life at The Hope Theatre after a successful run at Theatre N16 last year. The intricately crafted script is a gift for this talented cast and the result is a razor-sharp production that will only improve as the run continues.
The story follows three couples in three different decades whose lives are interwoven through biology and common disillusionment – their realities are worlds apart yet inextricably linked.
In Cold War West Berlin we meet Alina (Nastazja Somers) a sharp-tongued literature student and her lover, a brash American Soldier (Charlie Allen). The pair are comically mis-suited; Alina’s progressive viewpoints and Polish mother tongue forever soaring way over the soldier’s head – but this is the type of primal, physical love that overpowers intellect or politics.
In late 90’s London we meet party boy Elliot (Elliot Rogers) who will do anything and everything to distract himself from his turbulent childhood and Casey (Christina Baston) a wry Aussie backpacker avoiding the looming expiry of her visa.
In present day London we meet Holly (Sarah Hastings) a neurotic divorcee finally acknowledging her sexuality and her relationship with enigmatic younger woman Erica (Monty Leigh) whose own secrets are slowly unraveling.
Each actor gives such a strong and nuanced performance that the work seems effortless, with each couple having its own distinct and incredibly natural energy. McNeil’s skilful direction and writing have achieved what naturalistic theatre strives for – to make an audience feel like voyeurs into the lives of strangers and yet to see themselves reflected.
This feeling is enhanced by Szymon Ruszczewski’s beautifully simple and effective set design. The small, timeless room shrouded by white blinds gives the sensation of snatching a glance into your neighbour’s window at night whilst creating a sense of claustrophobia that traps each of the characters.
Torn Apart combines the intricacy and metaphor of a Milan Kundera novel with the inertia of an Ingmar Bergman film and presents a production that is an unavoidably relatable and raw exploration of love.
Catch Torn Apart at the Hope Theatre until July 22nd. Get your tickets here – http://www.thehopetheatre.com/productions/torn-apart-dissolution/