By Laura Kressly
Emotional connections with others – or lack thereof – can feel all-consuming. In this expressionistic montage, mini-scenes exploring the essence of how we relate to and with others culminate in a sense of isolation that comes with growing up and growing apart from friends and loved ones. However, this channeling of big ideas through characters who are only onstage for the briefest of moments doesn’t give either the ideas or the characters space to grow.
There is no singular story or core group of characters here. Instead, the show consists of a collection of short scenes revolving around a lose collection of themes. The show’s marketing materials state intimacy is the focal point, but that focus is equally shared with consumption, nostalgia for childhood, relationship turbulence, and a handful of other topics. It is reminiscent of a drama school showcase with smooth transitions and a wide emotional range, but any overarching social commentary’s impact is diminished by a lack of narrative continuity. There are some moving individual moments but the piece as a whole lacks coherence due to relying on thematic unity too heavily.
Two actors perform the wide array of characters, from children, to parents, to young lovers. Abbie Harrison and Abby McCann particularly excel at physically embodying kids navigating friendship and play, though their youthful vulnerability also shines throughout the other scenes. It’s not always clear if their more adult characters appear in earlier scenes, however this more due to the writing than their characterisation.
There are many good intentions in this new production, but on the whole it needs further clarity and development. There are hints of social commentary on topics such an influencers, eating disorders, and abuse as well as how the themes variously manifest throughout the show but these are also sidelined. At the end, there’s a lingering feeling of hollowness resulting from the final scene, and the need for more depth.
If We Ended This runs through 8 August.
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