Many of us have incidents that punctuate our lives, separating it into before and after. Some are joyous – marriage or the the birth of child, while others are painful – divorce, illness and death often provide this punctuation. For the husband and wife in Splinter, the disappearance of their young daughter Laura is such an occasion. Her subsequent re-appearance is a time of great joy, until splinters begin appearing in the adjustment period.
The splinters are fine at first, like the barely perceptible crack in an egg when rushed into a pan of water. Relationships that have such fractures in them have to be treated delicately. The parents in Splinter are barely holding on, as it becomes apparent that they are at cross purposes when it comes to dealing with their daughter who is much changed when she comes back to them. Laura is an enigmatic yet unseen force driving the drama, so her parents pain and anguish is all the more conspicuous.
Lucy Bell as the mother wears her heart on her sleeve and is overjoyed at her daughter’s return. Bell embodies relief, anguish and poignancy as the story enfolds. As the wife she is cautiously optimistic, until her husband (Simon Gleeson) voices doubt about Laura.
Though the play is paced well, it is pitched emotionally high throughout – making it an emotionally demanding night. We don’t get much reprieve from the suspense – though a brief moment near the end that highlights the man’s descent into a very dark place is such a relief, though disturbing, and a tantalising foreshadowing of what is to come. Lighting and sound were exceptionally good, easing us smoothly into the state of mind of the over-wrought husband and his descent into delusions.
As director Lee Lewis gets set to move on to Queensland, she is intent on giving audiences thrilling theatre right up until the move, with her usual panache.
Splinter is on at the Griffin Theatre until 12 October, for more information and tickets see: https://griffintheatre.com.au/whats-on/splinter/
Director: Lee Lewis
Featuring: Lucy Bell and Simon Gleeson
above image by Brett Boardman