The Burton Taylor Studio, 28th February-1st March 
Dennis Kelly’s Debris begins with the Crucifixion. This, though undeniably comparable with the Christian sacrifice it mimics, does not exactly follow any predictable pattern. Perhaps expecting the nobility and tortured resolve of a martyr, we are confronted with a very different spectacle: a flatulent, middle- aged, widowed, alcoholic father-of-two stapling himself to the ceiling; with the aid of ice-lolly sticks. This is provocative imagery and, in the words of his sixteen-year-old son Michael (Matt Maltby), who is first to be greeted by the display, there was no thought of suicide in his eyes. His thoughts, we are led to believe, have their root in anger, sorrow, and the painful realities of a thankless life. But this is only a two-person play, and all this is presented through the eyes of his two young children. The crucifixion is recounted through the eyes of Michael, who, in a dramatic opening soliloquy, creates a poignant, realistic and subtle interplay between character and narrator voice, half-imagined, half-witnessed. Events are described in a disconcerting blend of clinical minutiae and bursts of emotional grandiloquence, introducing the theme of reality as juxtaposed with his own truth and that of his sister Michelle (Sarah Milne-Das). It is a very personal pathos created here. The use of such young protagonists does in no way detract from the impact of the play’s message; to the contrary, the self-conscious incongruity between the poetic register of dialogue and the age and emotional maturity of the siblings captivates us and allows us entry into their world, where reality and childlike fantasy are inseparable. This is emphasised by the unaffected familial chemistry between Michael and Michelle, which develops as the play progresses; in fact, their two different paces of delivery help the flow of the play by off-setting one another, and disrupting any predictable rhythm of dialogue.In Debris, relationships are paramount. They dictate how the children learn to make sense of their place in the world and of each other, and inform their opinion of normalcy – coupled, of course, with the judicious presence of television. This is most striking when the children take it upon themselves to consider the fundamental developmental requirements of an infant, the infant in question having been discovered naked in a garbage heap only to be regarded suckling blood at his surrogate father’s teet: “They need a telly”.Pause. “This is true.” This clearly illustrates the play’s inherent cynicism, but also contrasts it with a dark, but no less pertinent, humour. Maltby and Milne-Das deliver their lines strongly, passionately and with an acute sense of timing, comparable to the Oxford Imps as well as any classical actor. We are drawn inexorably into their understanding of raw survival in the face of human degradation, and as the lines between the reality of truth and the reality created within the secret confines of the play begin to blur, it is their strong performances that, in the words of the playwright himself, “make it all real”. Let's not beat about the bush: fantastic play, fantastic production, fantastic performances. Combined are humourous philosophical insights with excruciating attendant circumstance. The Burton Taylor Studio provides the perfect intimacy for this piece as the audience sits on the brink of the action, while the space is used imaginatively about them. Thank you Will Maynard for your superb direction and a wonderful evening. You can always tell a really good play by the silence that greets it at the end, no one willing to break the spell before the well-deserved applause. By Philippa Harris and Lara Giuliana Gouveia Simonetti.