DamShel Productions @ Star Theatres – Theatre Two
1:30pm, Sun 7 Mar 2010
That’s the only word that can be used to describe Missing Pieces. Emotionally brutal.
But let’s take a deep breath… and go back to the beginning.
Jackie is married to Jed, and the relationship is clearly abusive. She cowers in Jed’s presence, and his physical presence clearly intimidates her – whilst his natural charisma makes light work of winning over friends. But Jackie has a friend in Carla (met through Jed’s friendship with her husband, Brett) and, over time, Jackie and Carla become intimate.
As the two women start secretly sleeping together, and the couples become closer (under the guise of their “innocent” friendship), Jed begins to exert his dominance on everyone. When he discovers the two women are seeing each other, there is an absolutely monstrous scene – the likes of which I’ve never seen at a Fringe show before – where Jed, unable to keep his jealous in check, launches into a powerful physical assault culminating in a brutal rape.
“Brutal”. There’s that word again.
Brett Heath is absolutely stunning as Jed; you can somehow feel the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end as he is rankled, and you sense the seething violence underneath his skin even whilst he charms Brett and Carla. His sideways glance at his wife while they sat at the cricket was pure venom – those eyes! Wow – just amazingly powerful stuff. And his physical presence onstage is immense. Helen Stuart and Steve Maresca are fine as Carla and Brett; but I never could really believe in Naomi Parszos as Jackie, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. Maybe it’s because I thought she carried herself better than I suspect someone in her position would? Or maybe that’s the point – that this violence happens to the people you least suspect.
The cramped nature of Theatre Two makes it a very intimate performance, and the direction is terrific. Shelly Wall, pulling double-duty as writer and director (and lovely to chat with during the interval), handles the progression of the play really well, building tension throughout. And the staging of That Scene… holy shit. You see nothing, but you know exactly what’s going on… and it is truly shocking.
“Warning: Strong Sexual Violence,” stated the flyer. Yep. It also mentioned the Fight Director by name… for good reason. It feels wrong to say that I loved Missing Pieces – it really shouldn’t elicit that sort of a response, especially with the torrent of tears at the end. But I certainly appreciated the opportunity to see this great bit of brutal theatre.