Writer Terry Hughes conceals the thriller elements of his play until well into the show. A mistake as the opportunity to build suspense is wasted as he concentrates on developing the characters. Despite this effort Blanche remains a broadly drawn character who does not progress throughout the play.
Worse, it is very hard to understand how Dawn could go from an initially passive person to a psychotic one. The careworn and tightly wound performance of Hughes suggests that Dawn must have a considerable backstory but it is not apparent in the script. Hughes’ technique of having Dawn display her passivity by repeating what the other person has said quickly becomes irritating.
Although director Helen Parry allows the flabby opening of the play to run on too long she delivers some startling, and appropriately disturbing, violent action. She fails, however, to help the cast establish a consistent tone for the play so their actions remain unconvincing.
The Piece has the misfortune of being a thriller that fails to thrill.
- Dave Cunningham