Broken is described as a spoken word play which, although accurate for any play, is initially confusing. Is this a rap/poetry style piece? The next spin off from Hamilton? It is rather a sweet and clever homage to The Bard himself with most of the text in rhyming couplets. Sprinkled with stolen lines from classic texts, it charts the love story of a man and woman who meet after he sneezes on the tube.
We begin at the end of their relationship and through stylised choreography and direction, we slowly learn of their demise despite a passionate and heated beginning. The text is riveting at times and is deftly handled by the two actors who have great comic timing. As ‘Girl’ Edie Newman is bold and fearless throughout and Matthew Lyon (also the writer) adds sensitivity to flesh out the character of ‘Boy’. The rhythmic pulse of the text is heightened and exploited for comedy effect most notably during the sex scene, with a delightful squeak of the bed as their metronome.
Despite the clever witticisms and skilful interweaving of Shakespearean verse and contemporary slang, the characters needed more depth. Although Boy reveals his inner insecurities about performing in the bedroom and Girl relates the hardship of love, this piece barely scratches the surface of a relationship breakdown. Boy finds solace in the bottle which is brushed off as just something men do, and rather than challenging gender stereotypes this piece actually enforces them.
The ‘boy meets girl’ narrative is difficult to reinvent and now more than ever we must scrutinise these familiar tropes. Lyon is clearly a talented writer and I would be interested to see him tackle a different story with his modern pentameter.
Written by @SAnnakin99