Stitching challenges the selfishness which lies at the core of
its young couple. At the same time, it creates empathy which
makes its occasional moments of horror seem much more visceral.
The production, for all that it loses in cohesion by its
abridging, does gain, from its small production values, an edgy
intimacy. Moments of excruciating verbal violence are poignantly
juxtaposed with banality. Stitching toys with the audience’s perceptions and
mirrors the intrinsic futility of its protagonists’ games of
make-believe. At its heart lies an aesthetic of loss; lost
objects, lost words and lost dreams. Masculinity is seen as
tragically emotionally inarticulate; Stuart’s initial
pseudo-logicism is grotesquely echoed by the shadowgames of
power. The sympathy we are made to feel for Stuart is
particularly well created by Tom Asquith’s expression of
half bravado, half helplessness. Helen Prichard plays Abby with a
mixture of weary optimism and sadness interspersed with
selfabsorption. The “stitchings” which tie them
together are loose; they are only temporary measures which, when
faced with genuine loss, transform the initial verbal games of
the actors into self-conscious tragedy. Abby’s eventual action borders on the hyperbolically
shocking, and if the play has one fault then it is this
occasional over-seriousness which culminates in melodrama as the
symbolism of stitches is realised in an attack of mutilation upon
its piteous heroine. At the end we can still only half grasp at
the real dynamics of the relationship and it is by this ambiguity
that the play succeeds.ARCHIVE: 4th week TT 2004