This latest show from Harpy Productions is Broken Link by Noga Flaishon. Part Zoom meeting, part supernatural chiller, it is directed by Kitty Ball.
The four characters on the call are meeting to remember Ellie, who passed away five years earlier. The twin brother, James (Harry Ryan). The best friend, Megan (Rachel Chima). The boyfriend, Luke (Kieron Michael). The younger mentee at school, Holly (Ida Regan).
Tensions, already high, reach tipping point when a mysterious fifth person, with no name or picture, logs into the Zoom. They communicate through the chat box and personal texts. A person who knows about secrets, nicknames, and events concerning Ellie.
Broken Link plays on the power of suggestion to force a sequence of events. Some of the group may have something to hide as old wounds are opened and official reporting of Ellie’s demise is challenged. Someone may be playing a game, but someone is also not being open with the group at this memorial.
Whether this is really about ghostly intervention or simply the power of the unconscious mind to make things happen is up to you, the viewer. What starts as a glimpse into a private chat between friends becomes something much more complicated and dark as the play progresses.
The most rounded characters in this play are the two men, James and Luke, broken and distracted in different ways by the death of this woman.
For James, the close bond between twins is destroyed , trapping him in a cycle of rage at the “choice” his sister made. In Luke, the bereft boyfriend, we see guilt and regret bubbling up as he “should have seen the signs”.
Less successful for me are the characters of Megan and Holly: I didn’t feel convinced of Megan’s change of heart as the play progressed and wonder why she was so prickly at the start.
It felt the wrong mood for a friend remembering someone who who had died. Holly is presented as young and inexperienced – we hear she was only sixteen at the time of Ellie’s death – but I would like to see and hear more from her.
The fifth mysterious character is never unmasked. It is the power of words, inferences, and technology which causes the group to reveal their real feelings and the secrets they keep.
Broken Link is one of 45 shows in the Living Record Festival, which runs until 22 February 2021.