By Adam Stepfner
What would you do if you were stuck at sea with someone you once shared an intimate connection with? How would you feel? How would you react? Meet Tom and Jules, two past lovers who opt out of normal living to explore their relationship on open waters. The Split, by Sarah Hamilton, explores relationships, love and change in her gripping new work, which stars Amy Victoria Brooks and Max Garcia-Underwood, and is directed by Charley Sanders.
Hamilton's story follows Tom and Jules, who are out at sea exploring themselves, and their connection, having previously been in a relationship. Her writing builds strong characters, enabling us to understand their past without making it overt. She also creates a great connection between the two as they slowly unpack the nuances of their relationship. Moments of the play fell plague to a pacing issue with scenes dragging on a bit too long at times, however, the infrequency of this left room to believe that once the actors find their comfortability in the show, this issue will be easily fixed. Amy Victoria Brooks was the standout on stage, providing incredible depth to Jules. Brooks is able to give so much with such little dialogue, using expression and body language to its full potential. Her ability to convert Jules - whether she was playing deep vulnerability or an intense grittiness - showcased the range she has as a performer. Max Garcia-Underwood gave a strong performance as Tom, playing him with sincerity and care, however there were some minor issues in his performance, particularly in his comedic moments, some of which missed the mark. Despite this it was exciting to watch Tom's story unfold, while maintaining an immense chemistry between the two. Charley Sanders' direction was quite clear and was concise. The actors' talent was well utilised and each was allowed to investigate these characters and their habits through a series of non-dialogue moments as well as playing with spacial awareness having been confined to a small space on the stage. Some blocking issues arose when at times actors were delivering lines to the back wall and not the audience, not a bad choice given the context of this story, however simply spinning them around would let us catch some things that I felt were missed.
The stage was set with all white walls and flooring, with props placed in a semi circle to plant the idea that the actors are on a boat or ship. Lighting design by Kobe Donaldson was the technical standout in this show. He uses various sets of orange and blue lighting states to suggest transition from night to day. He also uses projection of water to create an ambience on stage, which allowed us to fully believe the actors were alone at sea. Max Garcia-Underwood having also composed the piece, plays live guitar during the show adding another layer of ambience.
The Split is a fantastic new work telling a familiar story of love and connection. Although the production presents some minor flaws, I'd recommend it to any avid indie theatregoer.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.