Realistic theatre not only has to be in this world, for it to succeed it has to be of this world. It has to be recognisable, relatable, a mirror on which to project some aspect of the human condition, the stuff of love, life, loss and longing and all that goes with it. It is for these very reasons that Breaking Point works so well; here was a scenario that it is possible to imagine being played out any Saturday night in any town in the country, yet mixing the thoughtful and the throwaway with deft charm.
This two-hander is set around the idea of the wisdom of strangers, the fact that sometimes it is easier to share your thoughts during such a transient encounter than it is with people you are close too. Two girls meet on a bench outside A&E both carrying their own emotional baggage and as they begin to trust each other they reveal the heaviness in each of their hearts and offer support, reflection, condolence and hope to one another. A kitchen sink confessional or street-punk therapy.
Like any small production, the scene is set by only the sound affects of the street around them, the change of lighting to reflect the switch to inner monologue but mainly by the imagination. But with such a focused story, such a close up and personal insite, the wider world barely matters and it is the two performances that are the be all and end all.
Lauren Wallis is the slightly worse for wear, gregarious half of the coupling, the good time girl who is not having such a great time of things, Ellie Lawrence the more reserved, lost in her thoughts, initially stand-offish balancing act. And it is a balancing act, one played with dexterity and too perfection as these less than perfect strangers reveal their problems, judge themselves against each other’s situation and offer hope and resolution.
It is also a balancing act in language and content as they juggle deep sensitive issues with compassion and empathy yet remain two young girls in all their slang and curse driven abandon. As a script, the fact that it can travel from Byronic to moronic and back again in no time at all is a credit to Zoe Smith’s prowess as a writer.
And like real life, there are no big conclusions, no unseen reveals and thankfully no clichéd offers of lasting friendship; a chance encounter which leaves them with just enough hope and resolve to move on. That’s the trouble with reality; it’s all pretty …well, real.