Fractals are frequently found in discussions within the realms of science, maths, art and nature. Courtesy of the Barrington Collective, a company of recent East 15 MFA graduates, we can now see how effectively they can be used in playwriting.

Reconciling is ingeniously constructed and eloquently performed.

‘Fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales. They are created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop.’ (Fractal Foundation). This fractal format provides the fascinating structure for Reconciling and it works very effectively in demonstrating recurring patterns in human relationships that are repeated in different contexts.

The play consists of three stories. Each revolves around a specific situation and deals with the relationship between two people. Molly and Chris still have lingering issues to resolve from when they were a couple and also matters of faith and practice connected with being Baptists. Monica and Tate were best friends but sex, salacious photos and betrayal promise to put an end to that. Meanwhile, Jane and Charlie are trying to pick up the pieces after attending their father’s funeral.

These independent stories are told simultaneously. As the play progresses words and phrases they have in common are sometimes recited in unison with the same purpose and at other times with a different significance in each play. Further along, crossovers of plot also start to emerge and characters from one play intervene in the storyline of another.This may sound rather complicated in theory, but in its execution it becomes beguilingly simple and as wondrous a turning a kaleidoscope.

Through their studies together the cast has worked collaboratively for some time and this clearly impacts on the ease with which they interrelate in this production. Played by Jenny King and David Beckett, JoJo Ginn and Nick Wakely, and Katie Morrill and Matthew Tillet respectively, each character is clearly and credibly defined, vividly portraying the emotional complexity of their relationships. Julia Hinson, too, has directed this dark comedy deftly.

Reconciling is ingeniously constructed and eloquently performed; worth seeing for its structure alone but also for the the tales it tells. Aspiring playwrights should certainly see this production and even old hands could maybe learn a new trick. Thanks to the Barrington Collective fractals have entered into a new dimension and the theatre world is richer for their arrival.

Reviews by Richard Beck

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The Blurb

What do a Baptist, a bro in handcuffs, and a botched funeral have in common? Not enough, and more than you think. This dark comedy explores how three couples’ unique problems complement and crash into each other. Hearts opened and words spoken become recurring refrains through a collective unconscious, where one word can have multiple meanings. And vodka … that always makes things interesting. Join the Barrington Collective, a company of recent East 15 MFA graduates, as they bring this fractal tree of a play to life. Sit back, relax, and please feed the actors.

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