Review by Annmarie Lally
Stop / Over at times felt a lot less like a performance and more like looking through a window at snippets from 24 hours spent together with two complex individuals who through simply knowing each other, had changed one another’s lives forever. The staging of the piece required the audience to follow the women from room to room as they changed locations of their night out, immersing the audience into the story and performance even further.
The plot of the performance centres around a couple who reunite for 24 hours when one of them makes a stop over in New York City. The pacing of the story is energetic, matching the electric chemistry between the young couple, played phenomenally by Ashleigh Dorrel and Siobhán Callaghan.
The reckless decisions made by the couple is a bitter reminder that sense does not come before age but amidst the partying, drugs and reminiscing of old times that ensue, the theme that is constantly returned to is one of loss and longing. Be it for those loved, for times gone by or for things that can no longer be, there is a loneliness that seems to flow through the very veins of the performance. Rather than help ease this loneliness together, the couple seem to draw it out of one another in its most heightened, and often worse, forms. The spectrum of emotions portrayed throughout are rarely subdued with jealousy, anger, passion, grief and regret all making their presence well known. It is difficult to pick a side when conflict arises as the performances given by the two actors are so genuine and show so clear an understanding with their characters that it is impossible not to relate to both of them on some level.
The couple seem to be trying their best to live and enjoy their lives in the moment, having a night out to forget about the strife of days gone by and what awaits them back in Ireland, yet it seems as though they are unable to untangle themselves from the threads that tie them to the past. It is clear that each of the women long for fresh starts but they are unable to forget the pain or pleasure they have experienced previously, always making their choices based on striving to avoid history repeating itself or to recreate it, and thus having it control their present life either way.
Stop / Over leads the audience not only through a journey of the reunited couple’s misadventures in New York City but through their emotional journey and through the changes that have befallen the women since their more care-free college days. It is a reminder to the audience that things can never be as they were in the past and that, however heart wrenching it may be, sometimes the only way we can begin to heal is to cut ties with the bygone days and to start afresh.