City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Torn, Assembly Roxy, Review

By Justine Blundell - Posted on 22 May 2015

Show Details
Assembly Roxy
Faux Theatre
Francisca Morton (artistic director), Barney Strachan (composer), Melanie Jordan (creative assistant), Shona Reppe (director & design consultant), Laura Hawkins (lighting design), Dani Rae (producer).
Francisca Morton (performer), Barney Strachan (foley artist)
Running time: 

Faux Theatre’s Torn is a wordless and witty exposé of life after love.

This is not quite a one-woman show, nor exactly a two-hander. While Francisca Morton takes centre stage, miming the story of the love-lorn, kooky heroine, foley artist Barney Strachan provides the sound-track of her every move, creating a fascinating piece of theatre all of his own.

And it’s Strachan, not Morton, who starts the show. After wriggling into stilettos and stepping into a gravel tray to produce the sound of Morton’s footsteps, he wiggles a key in a lock to let us know she’s arrived. She disrobes behind a screen, clothes (and wig?!) are flung over the top, to the sound of loud, and occasionally improbable, noises. It’s impossible not to watch what Strachan is up to – apart from anything else, seeing sound-effects in production is an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often and so is not one to be missed.

However, from this point on it is mostly Morton and the whacky set design that commands and holds the attention. The really brilliantly innovative Shona Reppe has lent her expertise here – and it shows. One of the jocular highlights is Morton being rudely awakened from a wistful reverie with a ding from a machine that spurts her with popcorn (anyone who has seen Potato Needs A Bath will recognise Reppe’s hand here). Picking the popcorn off herself and the floor, she piles it on the table and sits down for a new take on the ready meal for one.

The rest of the set is all about the paper: in shades of cream through to white, sheets upon sheets are piled everywhere, with scrunched-up bits filling a bath that sits inexplicably to one side of her living-room table. From time to time, Strachan makes the sound of a telephone ringing (with two whisks on the edge of a metal bowl – genius!) and Morton fashions the old banana-shaped telephone receiver out of one of the bits of paper lying about. She is always greeted, sadly, with nothing more than a dialling tone.

While Piaf’s La Vie En Rose brings memories of ‘the magic spell you cast’ (but in French!), the ‘I never loved you… Nothing is going to stand in the way of my happiness – not even you’ from a 1940’s Bela Lugosi movie, is a horror that plays on a loop and drives her to paper-throwing despair.

Morton plays it all with an understated clowning that perhaps could have been played up a bit more. Melanie Jordan is the Creative Assistant on this and a little coaching towards the sort of performance she gave in Sanitise (a show, incidentally, also wordless and featuring a woman, a lost love and a bath) may have given this a little more potency.

There is a lot to love about this. Nonetheless, it was nearly – but not quite – there.

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