The Divide is worth the six-hour investment, but I wish I was happier with it than I am.
One is an issue of pace. Pt 1 takes place over a number of years; Pt 2 primarily stretches over just a few months. This different level of focus is a necessary result of the development of the plot, but sometimes Ayckbourn’s script gets too granular in its recording. I like that this half uses ‘sources’ beyond the two diaries, which provides perspective as well as enhancing the unique feel of the play as a historical document. But the diaries are, in contrast, less than thrilling at times. Soween spends days learning names of dead men as penitence, and we hear about every one of them.
As in other epics (Return of the King comes to mind) the story’s epilogue is too long and too neat. Every minor character is given some sort of resolution, and for the most part, I don’t care. Without the tension caused by the Divide, these romances are uninteresting.
But the biggest disappointment lies in the conclusion for one main character. In the world of the play, homosexual relationships are the norm, because sexes cannot touch each other. Once that system falls, a number of characters pursue heterosexual unions, which makes sense, because some people are heterosexual. But one particular character never expressed an interest in men. In fact, she seemed baffled that other women found them anything other than bothersome, and instead had a number of genuine crushes on other women. So, it is truly appalling when, in the closing minutes of the show, a man sticks his tongue down her throat and then they get married. This kind of ‘conversion’ plays on the worst ideas about homosexuality and I am shocked that a team as large and intelligent as that behind The Divide allowed it to stand.
That said, everything that is good about Pt 1 is also good here, including the technical elements, scene-setting, voice and the performances by leads Jake Davies and Erin Doherty. I’ll add that Richard Katz has a hard role, responsible for playing every other man in the show, and does so with aplomb, and Sophie Melville drives some of my favourite scenes in her secondary role as the secretary of the town council. Composer Christopher Nightingale provides a sweet soundtrack. The Divide is worth the six-hour investment, but I wish I was happier with it than I am.
[You can read the review of Pt 1 here: http://broadwaybaby.com/shows/the-divide-part-1/722911]