James Bloor is a genius. Split, his one-man-one-chair show, takes its audience on a compelling journey through "the lives of the troubled and the tactless", in an outstandingly well written series of monologues. As the piece progresses, it becomes evident that his characters’ lives are convolutedly connected. In some cases, the audience is able to recognise links instantaneously, whilst in others the intrigue takes longer to unravel, and laughter comes in ripples as audience members delight in fitting the latest piece into Bloor’s intricate puzzle.
Bloor is utterly outstanding both as writer and as performer. Each character was created distinctly not only through an insightful script, but through an impressive vocal range and a variation in physicality which was honed to the smallest detail. Transitions between characters were smooth and immediate: posture, mannerism and voice of one persona were discarded in a split second as Bloor assumed absolutely those of another. The balance between the complete surreality of some moments (take Bloor as fridge, or as Suzie the deranged and animalistic hair dresser’s assistant) and the utter humanity of others was achieved perfectly in both text and execution. Whilst being gut wrenchingly funny, Bloor’s characters were in places irrevocably, profoundly human.
This is a hard review to write, not only due to my lack of any criticisms of the piece, but because it seems such a shame to reveal any more of the characters when much of the joy of Split comes in discovering the intricacies of each, as he or she – or indeed it – is brought to life by Bloor. Thus I leave this review short, not out of a lack of desire to wax lyrical about just how wonderfully creative I believe this show to be, but because I must urge you to experience the novelty and intrigue of its wonderful creativity for yourself.