- Gareth K Vile
- 11 August 2021
Tight critique of emotional despair in a Fringe play about one couple's disintegration
An intimate and honest portrayal of the degeneration of a relationship, Plasters offers an incisive insight into the difficulties of communication, with a meditation on the nature of love and its absence. Emma Tadmor's naturalistic script follows a couple at the point of relationship breakdown, from awkward misunderstandings through more emotional outbursts to the final recognition of collapse.
The production's strength lies in the detail of Tadmor's script: what appears initially as mundane conversation is revealed as a fundamental conflict between the writer's character Tessa and her partner. Misremembered arguments, ill-timed humour, male over-confidence, and missed connections are laid out; while the protagonist may be reflecting on the past to discover some truth behind their break-up, the script rapidly exposes the discomfort and mild misery embedded in this couple's attempts at connecting.
Although Tadmor's script is precise, discomforting and fluid, the production doesn't quite find the appropriate dramaturgy to articulate this tension. Framing some of the episodes as rehearsals of a play only abstracts the passions, and the minimal staging lends its dialogue a formal, ritualistic energy that distracts from the powerful analysis of human frustration. However, the understated performances, and almost languid structure of the early scenes establish a fatalistic atmosphere, encouraging a reflective examination of the characters' behaviour. If the thoughts on the possible existence of love, and an inability of individuals to really share their experiences sound like philosophical exercises, Tadmor's ear for the nuance of conversation ensures that Plasters becomes a sharp critique of emotional desperation, restrained and longing for expression.
Plasters, theSpaceTriplex, until Saturday 21 August, 6.15pm, £10 (£7–£8).