The Piece introduces us to two struggling actresses; the self-important (and possibly alcoholic) Blanche and her downtrodden friend (and temporary lodger), Dawn. Desperate to retain the limelight following the closing night of their show, Blanche convinces Dawn to join her in writing their own 'piece'.
The story is essentially a role reversal through manipulation; from Blanche's self-righteous monologues at the beginning of the play to Dawn's physical imprisonment of them both towards the end. Terry Hughes' dialogue gives these two very distinct characters much to work with; both actresses have presence on stage and while Blanche's (Julia Nelson) melodramatic manner is particularly funny, Dawn (Michelle Hughes) holds her own even in the early scenes before her character really finds her voice.
However, there is something that doesn't quite ring true in the sudden switch of power between the characters, signalled by a rather slapstick fight which seems to undermine the significance of the event. Blanche's breakdown feels too intense, too soon, and perhaps sticking with verbal, rather than physical, sparring may have built enough tension to make this a little more successful.
Overall, this is an enjoyable piece of theatre and certainly worth the admission price but it feels like a play with a message you have to work a little too hard to find.
- Poppy Helm