Four actors bring two narratives to the stage, in this 50-minute production by Cardiff-based Open Letter Theatre. Chips is the story of a guy whose girlfriend leaves him, and the exploration of what it means for him to be alone. As the relationship deteriorates, the audience is privy to his thoughts.
Withdrawn is about another couple that meets and starts dating, and begins spending a lot of time together. As they get to know each other, the audience is taken along on a journey of discovery about human nature. The two plays are loosely connected by themes of young love, human emotions, and coming of age in a world that is at the same time both full of people and incredibly lonely.
The contrast between the plays was a great feature. As the first couple’s relationship heads south and they try to separate from each other, the second couple (who have only just met) are connecting in various ways, both online and offline. As one set struggles with memories of the past and their time spent together, the other is just embarking on the honeymoon phase.
The script is well written and the acting is good. Some scenes, like Sophie Roberts’ panic attack, are incredibly well performed and add a lot of believability to the storyline. The sound design was spot-on at every plot turn and deserves a mention.
For me though, Withdrawn was a better piece than Chips, benefiting from a stronger storyline and acting. Although they make up the same show, it is hard not to compare and contrast between the two – especially as one definitely stood out more than the other.
Even considering its notoriously hard-to-find venue, this is a worthwhile short production to catch. It will leave you with a feeling that will make you value those you love a little bit more… even if you use an emoji to tell them.