Brutal Cessation (3 stars)

Brutal Cessation

credit: Michelle Barnett

Visceral play about a toxic relationship lacks emotional depth

This two-person play, written by Milly Thomas, revolves around a couple in a toxic relationship. Dressed in matching grey jogging bottoms, the couple are nameless and locationless. Thomas deftly captures the style of arguing unique to couples, of two people who know each other so well they can push the right buttons, without ever referring to specifics.

It is a manipulative relationship, with a permanent undercurrent of tension built by steely looks and what is not said, as much as what is. An extended description of a torture fantasy, her torture fantasy, is stomach-churningly visceral as she talks through smashing her boyfriend's head like a watermelon and lobotomising him using kitchen utensils. The play is then cleverly turned on its head when the pair switch roles, acting previous scenes back using the other's dialogue.

While Brutal Cessation exposes gender expectations, its abstract nature limits an emotional response to the couple and their plight. The staging is unimaginative, with the exception of a dinner scene at opposing corners of the stage, and there is so little physicality between the pair, who appear more like friends, that belief in their relationship is stretched.

Assembly George Square Theatre, until 28 Aug (not 14), 4.20pm, £9--£11 (£8--£10).

Brutal Cessation

  • 3 stars

Michelle Barnette Productions Limited 'I have fantasies… I lead you to a table… and I hurt you.' A relationship. A relationship rotting. Purgatory. Is having no reason to stay a reason to leave? At what point does the abuser become the abused? And why aren't we more afraid of women? Two actors, one couple, swapping…

Assembly George Square, Edinburgh

Thu 17 Aug

The Box

£9 (£8) / 0131 623 3030

Part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Fri 18 Aug

The Box

£11 (£10) / 0131 623 3030

Part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Sat 19 Aug

The Box

£11 (£10) / 0131 623 3030

Part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

…and 9 more dates until 28 Aug

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