Schism review at Park Theatre, London – ‘intriguing, but over-long’
Harrison is a 33-year-old maths teacher. At his home in Chicago, hangs a solitary framed drawing of an elaborate building. It is one of his most prized designs; he always wanted to be an architect, but never quite made it. One night he decides to end it all and is about to swallow a handful of pills when 14-year-old Katherine de Witt comes crashing into his life.
Katherine has a physical disability which has left her stuck in special ed class, and she fears she’ll never be able to reach her full potential. She’s smart, really smart, and she hopes Harrison will be able to help get her out of there.
The play, a version of which was staged two years ago at the Finborough Theatre, is written by and stars Athena Stevens as Katherine. She is joined by Jonathan McGuinness as Harrison, and it is through his lens that the narrative unfolds.
The story, which starts when Katherine is a teenager, goes on to span 20 years and includes several plot twists and an unexpected denouement. Much of Lily McLeish’s production is swallowed up by Anna Reid’s set design. The awkward placement of the furniture in Harrison’s bachelor pad confines the action, dialogue and emotion.
While there’s a sense the play wants to be about female triumph over male oppression there is a lot that gets in the way of that message, including the running time – at two hours and 20 minutes, it feels unnecessarily long.
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