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Review: Broken, at Old Red Lion Theatre

Matthew Lyon’s play borrows from the Bard as it charts the build-up and breakdown of a relationship

04 May, 2018 — By Billie Manning

Matthew Lyon and Edie Newman in Broken

BOY meets Girl. They love, and then leave each other. It’s a tale as old as time, and Matthew Lyon’s Broken is happy to embrace that.

Spoken in rhyming couplets, it charts the build-up and breakdown of a relationship, importing all the bawdiness and irreverence of Shakespeare’s musings on love into a modern-day setting. If you know your Bard, spotting all the borrowed lines and references is fun, although some of the couplet rhymes might be better off divorced.

As might the play’s two characters, Boy (Lyon) and Girl (Edie Newman), who appear to be a pastiche of every overworked stereotype about heterosexual relationships, well, ever. Rather than addressing or subverting these easy tropes, the characters in this production simply fall into them, with he shoving off to the pub while she moans about him missing the toilet bowl to the girls.

The play is at its best in some brief, darker moments where Newman, usually filled with fiery energy, pauses to ponder the hurt of loving someone who behaves badly towards you. But this is not sustained and the serious issues of abuse and alcoholism are – alarmingly – treated as par for the course.

In a play that is all about reinventing the old, it’s a pity that it doesn’t seem to add anything new.

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