Theatre review: TORN
Faux Theatre's debut production is a visual delight
On entering the foyer, the audience are greeted by a full-size model of a wedding dress, constructed from old divorce papers, stuffed with scraps and scrunch-ups: the detritus of a dead relationship. The display has a hint of Miss Havisham – and provides a fitting aperitif to a production that provides a glimpse into the quietly chaotic existence of a woman who has loved and lost.
In TORN, the debut production of Faux Theatre, director and star Francisca Morton playfully explores the relationship between authenticity and artificiality. Before coming on stage, Morton peels off her layers of clothing behind a screen and changes into a pair of plain white pyjamas in a gesture of openness and vulnerability that is echoed in her near-childlike performance. Toddling around the paper-strewn stage with doe-eyed clownishness, Morton plays her role with a charming sincerity that heightens the performance's more emotional moments.
This sense of honesty is also reflected in TORN's design: in a self-conscious exposure of the artifice of theatre, Morton is accompanied on stage by foley artist Barry Strachan, who plinks, rattles and twangs the show's immersive soundscape.
It is in the relationship between this explicit theatricality and Morton's performance that the production really shines. In one of several technical highlights, the scent of an old pair of jeans sparks a 'madeleine moment', and the sound of Morton's deep inhalations is seamlessly transformed into the crashing waves of a romantic seaside trip.
Despite a few rough edges, TORN is an incredibly promising debut. By turns funny and poignant, the production makes up for some narrative shortcomings with technical skill and visual brilliance in spades.