Review: Wreckage (Turbine Theatre)

Tom Ratcliffe’s latest play to reach London (he also performs as Sam) is an ambitious and emotional powerhouse about love, loss, and regret.

Wreckage opens with Sam handing his boyfriend Noel (Michael Walters) the keys to his car to run a quick errand. Replayed several times with only slight tonal changes, this action has tragic consequences.

As Sam has to face up to being alone, the timeline shifts back and forwards to give us a sense of both his loneliness and their relationship.

Production image for Wreckage

What we see is raw and believable – a moment of particular poignancy as years go by is Sam’s anguish at forgetting memories, or even Noel’s voice.

Sam’s insistence of keeping a representation of Noel in his life is touching, and Noel’s emotional heartbreak as time goes by feels genuine. Little things matter.

Within director/designer Rikki Beadle-Blair’s set, there is foliage from the moment we enter the space and a projection scene that gives us a sense of date and place.

Production image for Wreckage

Ratcliffe’s writing is strong, energetic and honest. I felt the character of Christian (the man he chooses to spend his life with, also played by Walters) could have been distinguished from Noel a little more, but to have all three in a scene works well.

Wreckage is a play which, although short (around an hour), you will find yourself thinking about long after the perfectly constructed final scene – itself following a montage, which felt a little bit rushed.

Ratcliffe’s youthful bonhomie, which fixes to ongoing despair after the accident, is excellent, while Walters conveys a couple of moments of impotent rage before settling into pride and love from the world beyond.

Production image for Wreckage

Mwen’s subtle sound design and Rachel Sampley’s lighting help delineate any confusing shifts in scene and character. The movement/choreography within the small stage is also hugely effective.

The audience does have to some heavy lifting to keep up, but it is worth it for the performances that will surely resonate with anyone juggling loss and living.

Wreckage continues at the Turbine Theatre until 22 Jan. A Harlow Playhouse original production, it comes to London after success at the Edinburgh Fringe.

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Image credit: Harlow Playhouse