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Shed: Exploded View

Shed: Exploded View

A devastating and delicately woven piece about violence, love and loss.

"There was a fork in her face. An actual fork. He dug a fork into her face. A fork stood on end in her cheek. A fork.” 

Three couples. 

Thirty years. 

Mothers and daughters. Lovers, partners, husbands and wives. Babies, teenagers, birthdays, holidays, honeymoons, terrorist attacks, fireworks, near-misses, rain. This is a play about all of it. 

The smallest tremble. A smashed glass. The ripping apart of space and time. 

An explosion. 

“Will you kiss me at New Year - when the clock strikes will you?"

Phoebe Eclair-Powell’s stunning new play was the 2019 winner of the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting. SHED: EXPLODED VIEW is a delicately woven tapestry about violence, love and loss, brought to the stage by award-winning director Atri Banerjee.

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Shed: Exploded View ON TOUR

Our review on Shed: Exploded View

Shed: Exploded View - Royal Exchange, Manchester - Saturday 10th February 2024 by Lizzie Johnston

Our Rating

I always love a trip to the Royal Exchange, it’s a vibrant place which celebrates the best of theatre and regularly welcomes new and exciting productions. This time I’m heading there to see a new play written by Phoebe Eclair-Powell, which was the 2019 winner of the Bruntwood Prize Playwriting, named Shed: Exploded View. As this is the world premiere, I turn up with a limited idea of what to expect, having only seen the show described as a “delicately woven tapestry about violence, love and loss” on the Exchange’s site.

Turning up with no expectations to what you’re about to see adds an element of intrigue to a theatre trip, which suited this show perfectly. The plot follows three couples whose paths cross in different ways and different ways, yet they all have troubles of a similar kind. Each couple is a different age group at the present time, with one at the start of the relationship, one two decades in and one right at the end. 

We see key moments and pivotal memories for each duo, from the first meeting, engagements and starting a family. Though these memories are far from happy, in fact there’s an underlying issue of domestic abuse that is constantly referred to. Over the 30 year timeline, we see short scenes depict the downfall of the relationships and how this impacts the day to day life as a couple. These moments are penned onto the stage with chalk as a reminder of the trauma caused by words and actions, which builds up and starts to cover the stage as the show goes on.

The stage itself is revolving and has three different sections, allowing the characters to pass cross each other throughout the timeline. It’s a simple set up with the frame aid a shed hanging from the ceiling and six chairs placed to one side, where the actors would be when not on the stage. The costumes too were simple and non-fussy, everyday clothes and dull colours, depicting the characters as normal, everyday people.

The youngest couple, Abi and Mark, played by Norah Lopez Holden and Michael Workéyè, meet at uni and at first seem young in love and happy but it soon turns sour. Abi becomes a victim of domestic abuse and is killed by Mark, which is an anchor for the whole play. At first their relationship is young and fun, with banter and aspirations of their life together, however the audience can see tensions rising and you feel yourself desperately wanting Abi to run. Norah acts this role beautifully as you truly see her yearning for her love for Mark to be enough. 

Couple number two is Abi’s parents, Naomi and Frank, whose relationship is deeply impacted by her death, although it wasn’t exactly a fairytale beforehand. Lizzy Watts shows a multitude of layers to Naomi, from deep frustration at her struggling relationship with Frank and difficulties in motherhood. Hot head Frank, played by Jason Hughes, clearly loses his love for Naomi and finds it somewhere else, however the two haven’t separated and this causes friction. 

Lil and Tony are the oldest couple who met each other later in life, in fact it’s not either of their first marriage. Hayley Carmichael plays Lil as a wise woman who notices troubles within the other relationships, urging the women to get out whilst they can. She has her own struggles and despite truly loving Tony, there are moments when she cracks. Will Johnson pulls at your heart strings in his role as Tony, he must have a form of dementia and old age is starting to affect him. His monologue of what to the audience seems a simple list really shows the confusion he’s living with and how this causes tension between himself and Lil. 

Shed: Exploded View is fast-paced as it jumps between scenes but is still easy to follow and engaging. It’s shorter run time of 1 hour 40 minutes with no interval kept the pace up with no moments where the atmosphere dropped. As an audience member, you find yourself asking questions and wanting to know how the couples journeys go. 

Each scene is unique but with many similarities and the same key messages at the core. It’s a deeply moving play with a powerful impact that opens up the conversation around violence and relationships, and what we choose to see and ignore when looking as an outsider.



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