I have the pleasure of reviewing If We Ended This for the second time, after reviewing the performance at Colours Hoxton in June. However, as I perch on my seat at the new venue of Camden People’s Theatre, there is the buzz of sixty awaiting audience members, which immediately strikes a different tune to the ten people capacity at the original venue. With this also comes the differences of the stage itself. Although, Colours Hoxton’s intimate space perfectly matches the performance themes of proximity and relations, it is promising to see how they have adapted the piece to the wider stage of Camden People’s Theatre. Moreover, this allows the intricacies of intimacy between the two characters to form new meanings and perspectives in unpacking our own human behaviour.
The piece is divided into thirty-eight vignettes, that go back and forth through different scenarios, tackling: eating disorders, love, relationships and the effect of the internet. A noticeable difference from the first performance is that these sections are named and projected onto the back wall, almost like a label to the dedicated scene. These sections are called: The Body, The Child and The Consumer, and with each personality being shown is also a main title of the substance of the piece, for example: Full, More, etc. The connections between these words, the projected personas, and the action on stage, frame each vignette with a purpose. Furthermore, this then allows the audience to easily create links between the interchanging scenes of personas, and sometimes envision more of a streamlined plot, in comparison to having to remember the actions of a certain character and trying to make them whole, from the glimpses we are given.
One of the most interesting changes that I notice is the rearranging of sections within the piece, and what this provides for the performance as a whole. For example, Abby McCann’s monologue in explaining her binge eating comes a lot earlier in the performance than previously, and pretty much back-to-back with this scene then comes the reaction from the other character, played by Abbie Harrison. By bringing this segment into the belly of the piece it allowed us to rethink our definition of “Consumer” as it is displayed in so many ways throughout the production. But having this intensity of such a strong topic then being immediately grappled, also grants its sincerity with a respect. Like I said previously, it allows us to form a longer plotline for these characters, and this particular change surely lets us fuse these scenes together with ease.
This reorganising of scenes created more a flow between the characters and their lives. Although they all seem separate in content, somehow this performance convinces us that these characters as constant beings and humans that we can relate to.
The adding of props is also a great elevation of the piece. The two characters bring out their own boxes which stay with them throughout, and immediately these boxes seem like part of them. They act like the extra baggage that we all have, are protective over, and perhaps are hesitant to show anyone else. Also, the addition of the microphone adds another voice to the piece. For example, to demonstrate the authoritative voice of a police officer, the microphone adds depth to the performance, in showing us that there is more than just these two characters within their world. They share our world.
If We Ended This is a beautiful piece that has grown into itself. The piece perfectly envelopes the joys, nerves and devastations of forming connections, all with the relatable undertone of mask-wearing banter.
If We Ended This is playing at Camden People’s Theatre until 8th of July 2021. For more information and tickets, see Camden Fringe’s website.