Review: Split @ Vaults Festival – Hiive

Remember the early millennium?

For adolescents, MSN Messenger was a crucial feature of everyday life. Scented gel-pens were whipped out surreptitiously in the school playground, nostrils flaring at scents ranging from orthodox to obscure. Furtive conversations about ‘chavs’ were exchanged in low voices (though of course you couldn’t discuss this in public for fear of seeming classist).

Split is a show which wittily reincarnates these features so integral to green teen years. Transporting us straight back to 2004, McFly’s ‘Five Colours in her Hair’ emits from speakers nestled onstage next to a bed, toilet and wardrobe, and suitably sets the tone for this whistle-stop romp through the Noughties.

In their performance exploring the friendship between Year 7s Ellie and Charlotte, Tamar Broadbent and Emma Pritchard are remarkably adept at capturing self-interested teenage angst. The characters’ chemistry is evident in their hilarious, persistent back-and-forth, which sees the pair struggle through life events such as first periods, parental divorce and lessons on how to give a blowjob (yep, just as awkward and hysterical as you’d imagine).

Fast-paced action and razor-sharp one-liners merit a laugh a minute, and it is refreshing to see such capable actors grapple with issues young women experienced ten years ago, are experiencing today, and will continue to experience so long as teen hormones exist.

While some scene changes are a little abrupt, and one wonders how the main point of tension within the story might be explored further were it to expand upon its one-hour length, the play is otherwise a triumph. Crammed with nostalgia for a bygone era, SPLIT is the theatrical embodiment of a Buzzfeed article called ’10 things you’ll remember if you were a teen in the noughties’ – but with brilliant characters, memorable dialogue and sparky scenes to boot.

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