Exploring the joy of love and the heartache of loss, Tom Ratcliffe’s explosive new play, Wreckage, comes to Summerhall for this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Directed by Rikki Beadle-Blair, this two-hander takes its audience on an emotional journey, while retaining a sense of hopefulness.
Sam and Noel seem to have the perfect relationship, they both want the same things, but how they go about getting them might differ. Sam’s studying for a degree and Noel is a little older, thinking about settling down in a nice house and getting a cat.
When Sam (Ratcliffe) asks Noel (Michael Walters) to run an errand, things go tragically wrong, and the pair are separated forever. Sam’s guilt proves to be an intolerable weight, and while they are no longer together physically, Noel remains with Sam, guiding him through life.
Sam calls this a coping mechanism, he knows Noel isn’t really there, that he’s effectively talking to himself, but it makes for powerful drama. “I love you, I love you, I love you” Sam screams in torment, holding on to every precious memory he has, falling into despair as he realises he’s starting to forget things.
Projections are used sparingly in Wreckage to set the scene or time, which is helpful as the script jumps around a bit, taking us back to the first flushes of their relationship, giving the audience further insight to these richly nuanced characters. But it is Ratcliffe’s writing that does the heavy lifting, when Sam is trying to move on which leaves Noel writhing in screaming agony, the audience feel every bit of that pain.
Tom Ratcliffe and Michael Walters make a formidable pairing, their performances are breathtaking. Walters plays an additional role of Christian, and has to switch between roles in a heartbeat, it’s very effectively done and further highlights the impact Noel still has on Sam’s life.
Wreckage also picks up on themes that affect LGBTQ+ couples such as the ramifications of not getting married, or sorting out property. In the main though, this is a play about grief, and how we cope with it; as an audience we find ourselves mourning right alongside Sam, and when he starts to emerge from it, we also feel the freeing effect of looking forward and finding hope.
This visceral new play is theatre at it’s finest, and Tom Ratcliffe’s searing script will leave you with a new sense of appreciation for life. Wreckage is one of those must-see performances of the Fringe that audiences will be talking about for years to come.