Spare Parts Theatre Company, dedicated to raising awareness of transplant issues through performance, present this week at the Rosemary Branch Theatre Pieces, their new production that will also be performed at the PBH Edinburgh Free Fringe 2015. This one-man show comprises six stories about the delicate issue of organ transplants from different perspectives: a child, an alcoholic, a father…
These six monologues by Michael Ross, Peter Eastland, Robert Wallis, Simon Lys and Steven Mortimer provide a vehicle both for Mortimer’s acting skill and the feelings behind organ donation. From an alcoholic that needs a liver to the brother of a girl who needs a heart, the different points of view add authenticity to the narrative while keeping our interest throughout. However, not all pieces are as powerful, and particularly the first and second monologues feel off-key compared to the last four. The preview nature of this run of performances makes this lack of balance understandable, and I am quite sure the energy levels of the different pieces will get polished before Edinburgh.
Steven Mortimer – Bodies, Being Patient – shows a great flexibility in his approach to each of the stories and ultimately delivers a deeply moving performance. Although he needs some time to be completely focused, his portrayal of a boy in Wallis’s Regenerations! is engaging and emotionally charged, while Lys’s H.E.A.R.T and Eastland’s That Other You are perfect examples of great writing and fantastic acting. Mortimer’s naturalistic approach to the characters he plays suits this production brilliantly, allowing the audience to engage with the stories from beginning to end. Particularly, and surprisingly, it is when he plays children that he transmits the most, as with the young Doctor Who fan that hopes to become someone else after his operation.
With a few sound effects, minimalist lighting and a chair, Pieces manages to maintain a seamless flow. Director/writer Peter Eastland understands the production as scenes of a single piece, rather than six different plays: a kaleidoscopic change of characters and situations that are all part of the bigger issue of transplants. How does it feel to be waiting for a much-needed organ to arrive? How does it feel to have a daughter desperately waiting for that transplant? How do people cope with having received a transplant? These are some of the questions Pieces attempts to answer through these fictional testimonies that certainly raise awareness of how important organ donation is. Amusing and heart-breaking, blunt and delicate, Pieces is a both a wonderful show of terrific writing and a vehicle for a masterful performance, while raising necessary questions. Beautiful and moving in its simplicity, there is no doubt it will be warmly received at Edinburgh.
Pieces is playing at the Rosemary Branch Theatre until 12 July. For more information and tickets, see the Rosemary Branch Theatre website.