Ewan Pollitt’s short play, Fission, is currently available to watch online. Filmed at the Actors Centre in Seven Dials, this two-hander involves a conversation between two siblings in the attic of their childhood home.
Their father’s wake is going on downstairs, but he is present with his children in the form of ashes in an urn. Lex (Hiftu Quasem), a scientist, sees her father’s passion in life as his work at a nuclear reactor. Jack (Geraint Rhys) remembers him as a dedicated fell walker.
In their shared grief, the siblings turn on each other over plans to dispose of ‘Dad’, and old wounds are picked over of the ‘who was the favourite child’ variety. As Fission only runs nineteen minutes, it feels as if we are seeing an extract or introductory piece of a longer play, but the conversation feels believable.
Although he is now an inanimate object, Dad is a dominant force throughout this piece, as both Lex and Jack reminisce about their respective memories of childhood with him. Lex knew him more as a worker, and has a piece of information he (and she) had kept from the family. Jack wants Dad to rest “in a place [I] know”.
To me, Jack’s shift from unthinking contempt for his sister’s feelings to loving brother was too quick, and the core argument seemed simply symbolic of larger family problems we didn’t see. After all, mum (unseen) had discussed scattering arrangements with her son, but not her daughter. Why?
I thought Fission was a well-composed piece, and Pollitt directs his work well. There is potential here for further development, and I think audiences looking at the work as it exists now will leave hungry for more.
Fission is streaming until 8 November; tickets (£3) are available at https://www.actorscentre.co.uk/theatre-on-demand/fission.
LouReviews received complimentary access to review Fission.