Everything is shredded in Nathaniel Martello-White’s Torn. The trust of a family, the reliability of their memories. The form of a play is also ripped to pieces. Richard Twyman’s production sets the action in a confrontational therapeutic circle. Bare boards; plastic chairs; antagonism.
This is a family. It includes a woman who has children who are white, whom she acknowledges, and children who are black whom she does not. There is a teenage girl who is in agony about what to say about what her stepfather did to her. There are women who tear themselves apart because of her.
The fractured dialogue is sometimes lumpy with explanation, but often crackling. The performers, among whom Adelle Leonce and Indra Ové particularly shine, are without exception high velocity. This is exactly the sort of thing the Royal Court’s Jerwood Theatre Upstairs should be doing: sending what looks like a try-out, a scene rather than a play, into the air. To raise the voltage throughout the building.