Relationships are tough, they push, they pull and they can tear you up, which is exactly what No Offence Theatre’s production of Torn Apart is trying to show the world. From the moment we entered we are met with a very bold and exciting staging of a wooden box laced with string, an intriguing first impression which later becomes shatteringly poignant.
The piece thrusts you straight in at the deep end with sex, passion and nudity, three things that so many plays about ‘relationships’ forget about, there are no apologies and no punches held so within the first 30 seconds we know exactly what to expect and it quickly shocks the prudes in the room to get real! All the actors have to be strongly commended for their strength, being naked on stage is no small feat, especially in a thrust environment, but not one of them seemed phased by the environment so it allowed us to appreciate the normality of it.
The play itself wove us through 3 timelines of relationships over 3 decades, weaving in and out, showing us that though the clothes, and the entertainment and the words you use might change, the scenario and pain of love has never changed. The choice of highlighting specific people in the scenes was well chosen, it allowed everyone in the room to find a person or time that they related to and so where encapsulated in the action. The three stories where loosely linked, however I would have enjoyed seeing more of this in a less obvious manner so the audience could come to their own realisation of the behavioural conditioning metaphor they were trying to promote. I also feel that a little more attention could have been given to the individual stories of the characters (tough I know in 90 minutes) but I wish some of what was in the show blurb about them could have been portrayed stronger in the action.
BJ McNeill’s direction has moments of class his intersecting action and use of the central bed use and everything around it allowed us to easily connect the three scenes, however the sections of physical theatre where, I felt, a little un-actioned and felt they could have done with a little more attention. The real stars of the piece though are the actors; every single of them performed their parts with clarity and passion. Simon Donoghue’s stoic and classic American soldier was strong and well-built who we see battling with his duty and his heart, Christina Baston was beautifully strong and feminist to the core and both Sarah Hastings & Monty Leigh’s characters where perfectly matched and created an incredibly believable and heart-breaking story that we became fully invested in. The stand-outs however where Nastazja Somers’ Alina was passionate and strong, highlighting the pain and un-fairness of sexually driven relations and the affect that male inability to talk about feelings can have on women. Simon Donoghue’s Elliott however was a tour de force, his acting was well connected, meaningful and most of all true to himself, I can see a lot of Donoghues character was taken from his own experiences and at the age of 20…this boy will go far!
Overall the piece was a very well-aimed one, it had moments of brilliance and a very important message, however I just think to really hit the mark they are after and I think it can achieve both as a piece of theatre and politically it just needs a little more time to develop and a little re-look at some scripting, but in all a very interesting and enjoyable piece of theatre. I look forward to what No Offence produce next!
TORN APART (DISSOLUTION) – THEATRE N16
September 12th-30th (No Fridays or Saturdays) 7:30pm