About Time You Saw: This Is LivingBy Hayley Thompson
“If you were to stand opposite the person you loved most, knowingly for the last time, what would you say?”
This is the idea, which inspired Liam Borrett’s award-winning debut play, ‘This is Living’. Originally imagined as a 12-minute piece of theatre for the Edinburgh Festival in 2014, ‘This is Living’, is now a thought provoking and achingly realistic portrayal of the one unavoidable part of life.
Alice (Tamala Kari) and Michael (Michael Socha) have been together for six years, they’ve begun a family and become each other’s world. But now Michael has to say goodbye and Alice must let go of everything.
Contained within a small rectangular structure, covered by wet tarpaulin, the audience sits in a horse shoe, close to the tiny stage. As the room fills you wonder; how will these two players capture your imagination within the blank damp space for a whole two hours? Then, as light leaves the room and silence falls, you forget you’re watching an empty space and begin to fall in love with the two people, Michael and Alice, being brought to life within it.
Employing nothing more than subtle shifts in lighting and music, the pair bring the audience to the edge of saying goodbye, one night in a Yorkshire field. Then just as each scene edges towards its climax – and we learn the awful truth of what’s happened – they take you back to happier moments in their romance: Each time making it harder for us return to that field.
Just as in life, ‘This is Living’, lands you in the middle of a moment. The dialogue often starts mid-conversation and is filled with in-jokes. Yet, it is to the credit of writer and director, Borrett that we immediately understand and easily begin to feel – without the use of cliché or predictable scenes.
Just like saying goodbye the play stirs a mix of feelings through the simplest of exchanges on stage. A brutally real and affecting performance, it’s also surprisingly funny, which makes ‘This is Living’ not only an immense triumph, but even harder to watch.