Pros: Extraordinary performances by the entire cast.
Cons: The balance between tension and off-putting drama is sometimes too finely trod.
Actor turned playwright Nathaniel Martello-White’s latest masterpiece, Torn, explores a mixed-race family’s journey to the root of their troubles and back again. It’s a road strewn with lies, accusations, misuse, mistrust and jealousy.
The youngest, Angel, has called the family together to confront the past and sift through the wreckage. She claims to have been abused by her stepfather Steve when she was eight, and she wants to know why the family failed to protect her when she asked for help. It is a devastating tale of power, race and individual responsibility, brought to life succinctly during Steve’s hideous, threatening monologue about the difference between field and house slaves, after which he stands, smirking, waiting for the young Angel to make him a cup of tea.
Director Richard Twyman demands a lot of his audience as time slips and slides and characters switch seamlessly from one decade to the next and back again, even while others simultaneously do the opposite. To add to the jumble and confusion, there are ten family members to sort through, many of whom are addressed not by their names but by their family status like “Second Twin”. While this turmoil reflects Angel’s confused mind, the play could be tightened up a little by removing some of the less relevant sub-plots, and what starts off as powerful tension strays at times too closely to off-putting drama.
Towering above this urgent play are extraordinary performances by the entire cast, led by Adelle Leonce as the wide-eyed, hurt Angel and Indra Ove as her hateful, selfish mother. It is a bold, important and courageous drama that will have you at the edge of your seat for the entirety of its 90 tension-packed minutes.
Director: Richard Twyman
Writer: Nathaniel Martello-White
Playing Until: 13 October 2016
Box Office: 020 7565 5000
Booking Link: http://www.royalcourttheatre.com/whats-on/torn/?tab=4