by Diana Miranda
This piece of new writing follows a young woman (Emma Tadmor) who explores what loving someone means as she tries to make sense of her relationship’s crumbling. The story unravels through metatheatrical transitions spread throughout the show that allow her to navigate the issue as herself and as the character she plays. She is joined by her partner (Julian Chesshire) during a show’s rehearsals that depict a couple who recently moved into a new flat. It’s a bit difficult to tell the difference between when they’re in character and out, and it takes a while to understand the relationship’s subplot when they’re off stage. However, the main essence is clear in both scenarios: the failure to communicate their feelings and the bitterness and frustration that entails.
Written by Tadmor, Plasters looks closely at romantic love and questions the truth behind our recollections of it. As a metatheatrical piece, it examines the mental representations of moments we fail to understand, just like the performances created on a stage. Yet, ironically this play relies mainly on its dialogue rather than on a dynamic mise-en-scene. But it successfully addresses the main gist that drives it: What does ‘true’ mean? A story can be retold so many times before it morphs into something else.
Tessa/Andrea is sweet and even-tempered, which tends to translate into a mildly restrained performance. Tadmor gives her an ethereal quality using a soft voice – like a sleepy Blanche DuBois – which gives the piece a dreamy sensation. Chesshire’s Sebastian/Chris is achieved by a performance that’s exaggerated stylistically, contrasting with Tadmor’s nuanced, realistic acting. Although this discrepancy might come as a head-scratcher, individually, they both play their roles competently and succeed in conveying a palpable sense of frustration in their conversations as a couple. Furthermore, they eventually find a middle ground during a gentle, heart-wrenching moment when Andrea speaks frankly of the contradictory feelings that come from loving deeply.
Although Chesshire’s gestures and movements are the most energetic, Tadmor’s role drives the conversation. It almost feels like a monologue. Sebastian/Chris has sharp interventions as the annoyingly sarcastic know-it-all. Still, his part is not as developed as that of Tessa/Andrea. Although he clearly plays a role in her distress, he seems like a secondary role, an outsider from her mental confinement.
Plasters is, overall, a slow-paced show. The one section in which it picks up the pace a little – a series of snapshots that go over episodes in the couple’s past – could be handled more deftly in order to achieve sharper clarity. The confusion in this rapid section might be an encouragement to question the notion of truth even further, but it’s not entirely clear if that’s deliberate or not.
Throughout everything, Plasters is a frank piece that digs into love and frustration. The piece evokes a sense of longing, even if a little rough in the edges.
Plasters ran until August 21.
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