There's one small, very special audience that most of us will be legally obliged to join at some point in our lives — a jury. Yet, despite the overt theatricality of any courtroom in the UK, there’s at least one thing you won't be asked to do — to decide whether someone lives or dies.
Yet that’s the challenge facing any audience for Irreconcilable Differences. Polly and Ben have been married for 17 years; clearly, there must have been some good times, but those are all-too-easily overshadowed by plenty of bad — the fights, the affairs, the abuse, the suicide attempt, the living separate lives in the same home. The night after Polly's first book launch, the pair are both seriously injured in a car crash, from which only one of them is likely to survive. Here, on some limbo stage, the pair have just an hour to put their side of the story and persuade the audience that they deserve a chance to live.
Linked together by the long thick rope tied around their wrists, Laura Kelly (Polly) and Killian Sheridan (Ben) forcefully present two people who feel little tenderness for each other, but nevertheless retain that level of mutual understanding that comes from having spent so much of their lives together. As they flash back and forth through the years, invariably to the events and affairs that show each other in the worst light — 1992, 1996, 2002: "You and me and even numbers," Ben says at one point — we learn the sad story of an imperfect marriage in which both participants ultimately felt trapped as they changed and grew apart.
Although not told chronologically, there is a strong emotional core at the heart of this narrative that cranks up to an almost impossible release; this ultimately puts the onus on the audience to choose in favour of either Polly or Ben — even if you don’t feel particularly keen on either. Excellent theatre, which certainly puts the audience on the spot.