Beautifully written and performed with fearlessness, Torn Apart (Dissolution) by BJ McNeill is a bold and visceral look into love and all its unavoidable pains.
Three stories, three time periods, three passionate love affairs, all with one thing in common – they are all destined to be torn apart. From West Germany in the 1980s, to London in both the 90s and modern day, Torn Apart (Dissolution) shows us that love is in its most profound form when an inevitable parting of ways looms around the corner. As the play progresses, you discover that each story is linked to the others in both thematic and literal ways. Without giving too much away, the events of the play allow for some fascinating discussion about nature vs. nurture and pre-determinism.
BJ McNeill has constructed a wonderfully realistic verbatim in Torn Apart (Dissolution), with subtle details that enrich both the realism and historical authenticity. The dialog is occasionally a little repetitive and clunky. But – for the most part – it’s vivid and evocative, with succulent detail which heightens the intensity of the plays erotic elements and strengthens the emotional punch of the darker moments. McNeill has used these passionate tales of love to highlight various contextual issues from the respective periods: often the reason the lovers are being torn apart.
The acting is superb all around, with every actor finding the soul of their character, and it’s a joy to watch them live out their desires, passions and pains. For me, the story of Christina Baston’s intellectual Australian backpacker and her charmingly hyperactive boyfriend played by Elliott Rogers is the most compelling. They, unlike the other two, are grounded in a much more polished realism. Their performances are wild and unrefined, making their scenes buzz with electricity.
The set design in Torn Apart (Dissolution) is simple, but used to great effect. The characters are in a large wooden rectangular frame that covers the whole stage. In between the edges of the frame are tightly suspended pieces of string, which the characters interact with in surreal and visually stimulating ways. The audience from all sides peeks through the string into the intimate lives of the characters. A strong visual representation of the context in which you are viewing the piece. What we are seeing is discreet and private.
Torn Apart (Dissolution) doesn’t hold back, but it doesn’t spoon feed you anything. It tells you a story of feeling over thinking, sensory stimulation over intensive story telling. There are moments in this piece that I felt are quite iconic, helped of course by the tastefully chosen soundtrack. With a little more pacing, this piece would be 100% perfect. But it’s still well worth a watch.