STAGE REVIEW: Wreckage @ Live Theatre, Newcastle (28.06.24) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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(NOTE: This review contains spoilers)

Two-hander plays are a unique form of theatre. They require clever, distinctive writing, a lot of chemistry between the performers, interesting (but not intrusive) set design, and a quick hook for the audience. Wreckage hits all of these perfectly. Written by Tom Ratcliffe, directed by Rikki Beadle-Blair, and performed by Ratcliffe (as Sam) and Taofique Folarin (as Noel/Christian), Wreckage is an intimate masterpiece about moving forward with grief.

Ratcliffe writes and performs the role of Sam with a deep understanding of how grief and guilt affects people in less ‘typical’ ways. The first scene is a perfect illustration of how to make a normal scene rife with uneasy tension. Taofique Folarin performs the role of Noel with a stunning ability to pull an audience in, capturing the audience from the first line, especially in a scene that captures Noel cheering for Sweden (in the Eurovision Song Contest). The slight changes throughout the play in his characterisation are perfectly executed to display the fragile nature of memory. Altogether, Folarin possibly has the hardest role in the show, playing both the alive Noel and the version Sam has in his mind after his death, and the role of Christian, Sam’s partner after Noel’s death.

The only possible complaint I could have is that the transitions between scenes can feel laboured, but, by the end of the play, I had actually grown to like them. They’re balletic, which can throw immersion at the beginning, but once the show picked up momentum, I found that the transitions were becoming smoother and more fluid. 

I don’t think it’s too hard to tell that I adored this show. In simple terms, it’s one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. It takes me a lot to break down in tears in a public theatre, but the ending had me, and many others, cry like nothing else. If you get a chance to see Wreckage, drop everything and see it. This is a level of quality that doesn’t come around often enough, in writing, directing, and acting, and it needs to be seen.

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