Break Up (We Need to Talk) (3 stars)

Break Up (We Need to Talk)

credit: Theo Taylor

Gruelling five-hour emotional trauma action

Five people dressed in comedy banana skins enact an unhappy break-up over five hours. Rotating between roles, so that the gender or sexuality of the two thwarted lovers is never fixed, it follows the break up from the slight sense of discomfort in the first hour, moving through confessions, resentments, nastiness and, finally, resignation.

As a durational work, the audience is free to come and go, dipping in and out of a narrative that begins in nervous attempts at togetherness. Gradually, betrayals are revealed and the characters, caught together – they can't leave – rip into each other, pushing the buttons in the way only long-term lovers know how to do.

Sometimes, this has a harrowing immediacy, the fluctuations in the balance of power played out in fascinating detail. Then it becomes trivial, an insight into the boring battles of romance that are the self-indulgence of individuals trying to create drama in their frictionless first world lives.

The length of the piece forces conversations to continue past their dramatic importance: while this is deliberate, it loses the urgency and richness that a more concise examination could achieve, and watching two lovers rake each other over the coals is both thrillingly uncomfortable and predictable. The skill of the performers – all of them capture the world-weariness, the desperate hope, the sense of betrayed idealism and even cynicism – can't quite make the action constantly gripping, but there is space for thought and reflection in their longueurs of passion.

Summerhall, 21 Aug, 6pm, £10 (£8).

Break Up (We Need to Talk)

  • 3 stars

There’s no easy way to do this. An entire relationship lovingly created and destroyed over five hours. Come and go as you please and revel in the desperation, negotiation, devastation, and emotional blackmail.

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