Two women stand side by side, staring out into the darkness of the audience. They seem distant, like they are worlds apart, and yet something is somehow still connecting them.
They speak of a new-born babe and its mother. The bond, the love, the care, the desire for the mother to push her thumbs into the side of her own baby’s soft little skull… The mother leaves, packs up her bags and never looks back.
i will still be whole (when you rip me in half) follows the storylines of two women, Joy (Tuyen Do) and EJ (Eoife Hinds). EJ is young and free, going out to nightclubs and falling in love with girls she never leaves with. Joy is past that phase; she’s full of regret, as she desperately tries to fit into her new surroundings, after she abandons her baby. The play leaves subtle hints of Joy’s postnatal depression, whilst focusing on her struggles as a single Chinese woman living in London. She is lonely. They both are. Stuck in a loop of their own thoughts.
The script is intricately crafted by Ava Wong Davies, as the two separate narratives
periodically touch and drift away, before the audience can make any solid connection
between the two. The play is enriched with descriptive imagery and metaphors,
allowing Helen Morely to take a more simplistic approach to her direction, enabling
the writing to really shine. The set is minimalistic, with grey tiling and walls, uplifted
with green vines, moss and plant pots. Nature is clearly playing a subtle role in this
play, from EJ’s close encounter with a fox to a devastating house fire. Nature
nicely ties everything together, as the pair strive for closure from the past. Tuyen Do
and Eoife Hinds beautifully embody Joy and EJ, taking the audience on this
emotional journey of self-discovery, love, family and friendship. However, they could
excel their acting even further if they equally invested themselves in the little side
characters, playing more with voice and physicalisation.
Despite moving in the space together, their paths never quite cross. It’s not until the
end that the pair finally meet, creating a clear shift in the piece from monologue to
natural dialogue. It’s 22 years since Joy left her baby, and now they finally get to
meet. Until this moment, the connection between the pair hadn’t been entirely clear,
and I honestly thought that EJ’s mysterious father had a new woman on the scene,
that was desperately trying to get EJ’s seal of approval. It isn’t until EJ questions her
upbringing, that the anticipated pieces soon fall into place. Their meeting is naturally a
little awkward and rather drawn out. Despite the finale feeling a little anti-climactic, this is a devastating tale of separation.
i will still be whole (when you rip me in half) is at The Bunker until the 23 rd of November. Tickets are available here: