Entering Mardon Hall on 22nd May, I was not sure what to expect from Theatre with Teeth’s closing show of the academic year. All I knew was that it was about two girls who had recently broken up and met again at a party. Although I had heard good things from my more drama-inclined friends, I wondered if this was a show that was going to challenge and scold my heteronormative assumptions. This is undoubtedly something that is very important, but I was not up for being lectured. I could not have been more wrong. Yes, it was a show about two lesbians, but it was not a play about lesbianism. From the opening until the end, How to Split a Peach, directed by Isobel Knight and Caroline Lang, engaged the audience and lived up to the reputation that Teeth has continued to strengthen throughout the year.
How to Split a Peach takes place at a party, which the former girlfriends escape separately, ending up in the same bedroom. Over the course of forty five minutes, the audience is given a sneak peek into their tumultuous three year relationship. What could have been a melodramatic topic base, was, if anything, the absolute opposite. Enough props cannot be given to writer Jenna Kamal. Kamal’s writing remained beautiful whilst never straying into the heightened or unrealistic. The language centred on naturalistic conversation which would move between moments of awkwardness to light-hearted chatting to intense emotion with ease.
Abi Clarke and Alice Wordsworth, playing Maya and Beth respectively, delivered stellar performances. Abi’s larger-than-life and intense character could easily have been overacted, yet she walked this fine line without difficulty. Alice’s calmer character allowed for a more subtle portrayal, which again was done impeccably. However, it was the connection between the two that really made the performers shine. Whether it was the awkward beginning conversation which illustrated the two girls’ great comic timing or at more intimate moments, the girls never failed to react and bounce off one another. The two actresses were at their most engaging during the most naturalistic moments of writing, something that was slightly lost during more anecdotal pieces of conversation. The ebb and flow of light-hearted and serious conversation meant such moments were never drawn out.
Kamal’s writing remained beautiful whilst never straying into the heightened or unrealistic
The intimate feel of the play was heightened by the beautiful set. The entire production took place in one bedroom and as the two girls reminisced about their relationship, the audience was seated metres away. There were points when I certainly felt like an uninvited guest to the chemistry between the two characters. Whilst being fully gripped, I almost wanted to leave the girls alone, and allow them to reconnect. The simple set also allowed for some of the best moments in the play. The bedroom was the place where everyone had dumped their coats, and the two girls decide to rifle through the pockets of fellow party-goers to find the weirdest items they could, providing a hilarious moment exposing a glimpse of the bond between these two girls.
Thus, How to Split a Peach was the perfect way for Teeth to finish the academic year. A heart-warming, brilliant script which was acted impeccably, it was a standout play for the year as a whole.