REVIEW: What Falls Apart @ Live Theatre, Newcastle (23.04.15) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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On the eve of the most important General Election for a generation, a teetotal barman, a disillusioned politician, and a hack journalist meet late one night in a hotel bar. Haunted by their personal and political pasts, the three are drawn into a communal long, dark night of the soul in this unforgettable new work from writer Torben Betts and Director Max Roberts.

Kevin Wathen is hilarious and chilling as the ex-soldier-turned-mercurial barman who last drank alcohol the day Thatcher died, his jocular persona masking a deep pain that unveils itself explosively. Zannah Hodson is brilliantly prissy and devious as a conniving journalist born the day Thatcher came into office, ultimately winning our sympathy – if not our hearts – by the end of the show. The heart of it all lies with an outstanding Nigel Hastings as the embittered politician and old socialist, haunted by voting yes for war in Iraq a year after he saw the prime minister shrug and smile at the news of 100 deaths by a misplaced drone strike in Afghanistan, desperately trying to be a serious, honest man lost in a world gone awry around him.

Questions of class come into play as we see how status in society renders our players as enabler, supporter, and actor – all complicit despite surface disagreement – and can define whether a personal crisis will take your career, your marriage, or even your life.

What Falls Apart absolutely sparkles as the three go vibrantly back-and-forth on society, war, interventionism, evolutionary psychology, civilization, Thatcher, Blair, 9/11 and more, with ever-bigger sparks flying between them as the hour gets later, the tongues get looser, and the drink keeps flowing. Initial cordiality goes out of the window as the barman, the politician, and the hack reveal themselves, and this timely and very funny work builds to a fiery conclusion.

“We are not the dark clouds, we are the blue sky behind” says the barman. What happens on the nights when the storm just won’t break?

What Falls Apart runs at the Live Theatre until Saturday 16th May.

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