Brad Brich's Tremor distils some of the biggest questions about the world we live in through a single event and relationship.

The Tremor of Brad Birch’s title is anything that ripples and rips through our lives, from the personal relationship of the two characters to the aftermath of the shared event that ripped them apart. For Tom (Paul Rattray), it’s when his ex-girlfriend knocks on his door after many years (and many ignored emails), ripping through the new life he has created. His Ikea-build house, with his wife and son on their way home, compete against the reminder of his past with Sophie (Lisa Diveney). Birch layers this with far bigger questions – what if the event that tore their relationship apart was a tragedy, and what if there were consequences and questions beyond just the personal?

Tremor Sherman Theatre

Lisa Diveney (image courtesy of Mark Douet)

Diveney and Rattray carry the hour-long piece fluently, with direction from David Mercatali. The familiarity of the characters with one another leave a lot unsaid, particularly in the first half, and lets the audience fill in the blanks. Rattray plays Tom with a confidence that has just enough cracks to show the impact of what he went through – he gets the audience on stage to make his final speech, with revelations that resonate beyond his performance. Opposite him, Diveney has a vulnerability that pulls the audience in but also gives a sense of the strength within her, even as Tom tears her down.

Tremor Sherman Theatre

Paul Rattray (image courtesy of Mark Douet)

Hayley Grindle’s circular platform stage is turned into Tom’s living room, making excellent use of the Sherman Studio Space. Staging Tremor in the round, while sometimes dizzying for an audience following the actors, is cleverly directed by Mercatali to follow the dialogue and action of the play. A clever lighting design from Ace McCarron elevates what could be a stark and bland design into something that feels reactive, following the action and subsequent reaction of the characters. Subtle for most of the play, McCarron’s design matches the pace of both the writing and direction to pull in the audience in and focus on the action & emotion of each scene.

Tremor Sherman Theatre

Lisa Diveney (image courtesy of Mark Douet)

Tremor is an intelligently put together production, an appropriate showcase for Birch’s writing. Distilling some of the biggest questions about the world we live in through a single event and relationship, it’s at times overwhelming – and rightly so. The questions Birch asks are huge – how we respond; how we choose to live our lives; how and when we forgive, and the actions we choose to take. Wrapped up in the microcosm of two people caught in a tragedy, there’s a lot of ground to cover. But Birch writes a succinct snapshot.

Tremor ends with Tom asking a series of big questions of Sophie and it’s this that flips all of those issues. The unresolved questions from one event puts the emphasis firmly back onto the audience, encouraging debate and discussion around these bigger topics long after they leave the room.

 

 

★★★☆☆

Tremor runs at the Sherman Theatre until 5 May 2018. For further information, please visit the venue website.