What is love, and what does it mean—is it even real? These are the fundamental questions which underlie and saturate Plasters, the somewhat avant garde piece by Emma Tadmoor taking place in what seems at first to be the home of Andrea (Tadmoor) and Chris (Julian Chesshire), as a seemingly innocuous conversation begins to send the conversation into an ever-growing spiral of semantics, rhetoric and philosophising.
The problem with Plasters is that, despite it being well acted by a pair with good chemistry and a clear adaptability to the occasional changes in direction, the overall effect is one that is simply baffling rather than clear or clever. This is in no way aided by the flat seating arrangement in the venue, and the choice to have long stretches of the piece with the characters lounging around on a mattress, completely obscured from view to all but the front rows.
As such, with nothing to focus on but the dialogue, it's not wholly surprising that there were several walkouts during the performance, as patrons clearly had lost patience with the circular form of the rhetoric and verbal sparring leading to no actual clear plot or easily comprehensible structure to the narrative, particularly when without warning, it is revealed partway through, that this is merely a play within a play, and Chris and Andrea are really actors Sebastian and Tessa, who are suffering their own relationship strife, leading to a fresh series of questions and new sparrings with a slightly different tone and personalities at hand.
It's a shame, but ultimately Plasters is frankly confusing. This is a failing of the production as a whole rather than the audience, despite there being a clear eventual direction and point the play builds toward. However, it's one which is easily lost on many, and even with the "rehearsal within a play" framing, the finer points of the dialogue cannot hope to hold the proper attention of an audience who can barely even see the cast, let alone follow the nuances of the degrading relationships at play. I cannot fault those who stood up and left part way through. Perhaps if they had waited it would have come clear for them, but just as likely, they were wasting their time.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan