A young couple on a small fishing boat drift about in open water, moored by an anchor that ensures it never strays too far. From what, or where, is never specified; Tom (Max Garcia-Underwood) and Jules (Amy Victoria Brooks) seem to exist in a timeless place, and the audience, too, experiences a sense of timelessness. The Split sets a meditative tone from the promising opening scene and perpetuates it for 90 minutes, in which the slumber starts to feel like a coma.
Tom and Jules are a playfully clever couple, their longstanding relationship told through the intimacy of silly jokes (The Fart Will Go On, apologies to Celine Dion and fans of Titanic.) The reason for their excursion becomes increasingly menacing, but never quite revealed until near the end. Are they refugees from climate change? A suicide pact? Is it all their dream, or the audience’s?
Direction by Charles Sanders, in close collaboration with playwright Sarah Hamilton, is expertly done. The sound and composition (Mario Spate with Garcia-Underwood) and lighting (Kobe Donaldson) beautifully mournful.
Despite the prolonged awkward silences, the rhythm of the over-long show graduates into something more. Haunting, terrific theatre. Prepare to becalmed with this couple in quiet waters, and unexpectedly mesmerised.
Until Dec 14. Old 505 Theatre, 5 Eliza St, Newtown. $30-$45+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.old505theatre.com
Reviewed by Olga Azar