Review: The Structural Integrity of a Peach – Life, love and angst

Review: The Structural Integrity of a Peach – Life, love and angst

Piecing together short snapshots of intertwined lives, The Structural Integrity of a Peach is an ambitious attempt to unravel the anxieties of love life and death. And it is not all together successful.

The play opens in an office. Martin (Thomas Hemsley) is alone. He walks to the front of the stage and begins to remove his jacket and tie. He takes a gun from his briefcase and prepares himself. The silence is shattered, not by a gunshot but by the entrance of his co-worker (Joe Kent Walters). The snappy, irreverent dialogue that follows is this play at its best. Writer Dan Sareen’s talent is showcased to the best of his ability in the moments of quick exchange which plough through pop culture references like Uma Therman through samurai. The scenes that take place between Alice (Izzy Algar) and a shifting cast of devils are perfect examples of this.

The snappy, irreverent dialogue that follows is this play at its best. Writer Dan Sareen’s talent is showcased to the best of his ability in the moments of quick exchange which plough through pop culture references like Uma Therman through samurai.

Where the writing falls down is in the moments that become introspective. Instead illuminating the audience to the core concepts behind the production, these monologues soon descend into emotional showboating which verges on the pretentious. Perhaps these moments would be carried off if they were delivered with more conviction by the cast. However they seem uncomfortable in their characters, the emotions coming off as trite rather than convincing. This is coupled with direction that is not confident enough to embrace the talk heavy nature of the play. The actors spring up and wander around the stage in a manner which disrupts, rather than adds, to the action.

However the production overall feels self-indulgent. Every character has multiple speeches which all engage a kind of pseudo philosophy on the nature of love.

Strong performances are given by Joe Kent Walters and Kieran Bose-Rosling, in the role of one of the devils. They is also a good scene of physical theatre, depicting the first date between Alice and Martin, which manages to be both funny and charming. However the production overall feels self-indulgent. Every character has multiple speeches which all engage a kind of pseudo philosophy on the nature of love. The closing speech of the play, which explains the metaphor of the peach, is not only predictable but also implies that the audience is too stupid to understand the thrust of the play without a little bit of mansplaining. Never has a student production felt so like a student production

The final performance of The Structural Integrity of a Peach is tonight at Stage@Leeds at 7.30pm

Xa Rodger

Image courtesy of Open Theatre

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