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FISSION by Ewan Pollitt, an online performance at The Actors Centre

FissionFor a show with a nineteen (I repeat: nineteen, not ninety) minute running time, a surprising amount of character development takes place in Fission. Lex (Hiftu Quasem) and Jack (Geraint Rhys) have wildly different perspectives on what their father would have thought with regards to his final resting place. His ashes are in the attic of the family home, with the rest of the (unseen) family downstairs, and so it is upstairs, away from listening ears (except, of course, those of the audience), that the siblings are able to talk freely and frankly.

There are still plenty of unanswered questions by the time the play ends, and this does admittedly feel like Act One Scene One of a much more extensive work, perhaps one of those where the action goes back in time to re-enact some of the past events described here. Having been forced out of the job he enjoyed for so long, Lex and Jack’s father chose early retirement instead of making a sideways move into another department. But there are things about ‘Dad’ that Lex knows that Jack doesn’t, and vice versa.

That they now find themselves in a room together with no other company is a narrative device for things to come out in the open, and while they bicker as siblings sometimes do, they also engage in a warm embrace to diffuse the situation and patch things up. That they do so within moments of being in each other’s faces and telling one another to “piss off” is refreshing, and this production somehow manages to pull it off without coming across as too soppy and sentimental.

With a fairly minimalist set (there was a time, before I got called out on the overuse of the phrase, that I might have called it ‘simple but effective’), the focus is very much on the dialogue to signpost the audience as the story goes on. The on-stage urn will resonate with many who have lost someone as a result of the global pandemic, whilst the production’s positive ending, although far from conclusive, restores faith in humanity. A thoughtful and engaging play.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Fission is a new digital play that examines grief, reconnection and sibling rivalry.
The play follows the story of siblings, Lex and Jack. When their father dies suddenly they both have their own plans for his ashes.
But who their father was and what he really wanted seems to have been ripped apart, split between the two of them. As we learn more about their grief, Fission takes the audience from the mountains of the Lake District to complex laboratories of the nuclear industry.

Cast
Hiftu Quasem and Geraint Rhys
Writer & Director Ewan Pollitt
The production will be available to stream on demand from 30th Oct – 8th Nov. Tickets can be bought
from http://actorscentre.co.uk/theatre

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