Bronte Charlotte and Leigh Scully: Pieces of Shit – Theatre Review

Directed by Nick Clark, Pieces of Shit is an intimate performance from Bronte Charlotte and Leigh Scully. Presented in the intimate setting of Melbourne’s The Butterfly Club, the production doesn’t shy away from talking about some of the most difficult and topical discussions that are relevant in our current climate.

The story follows two characters burdened with grief. One played by Bronte Charlotte is a woman trying to understand moments of her past, the other played by Leigh Scully is the left behind sibling of a recently deceased favourite son of the family.

There were content warnings listed, and while that prepared me for what would be discussed in the performance, the content is treated with respect. It never feels like the themes of self-harm, violence against woman, and the content that was the most central, sexual assault, are just used for shock value. The story is told from the perspective of two people, from different social circles and at juxtaposing places in their lives. Initially, it seemed the characters would stay separate from each other, yet both be individually struggling with life. One is successful in their field and one, the other unsure what their place in the world is.

As both characters’ lives come together, the harder content is explored. A horrific story of prolonged sexual assault is revealed and both characters’ lives are forever changed. The bombshell moment is shocking with Charlotte and Scully putting everything on the stage; crying, screaming, and acting every emotion that would normally happen to an individual over months, into minutes. This isn’t rushed, is taken with care, and nothing in the show is shocking for the sake of being shocking.

What these characters are experiencing is true for many people. The realisation that you’ve been betrayed by someone you thought you knew, the guilt you feel that their actions were unknown to you, and how that person’s actions have a ripple effect that can destroy so many lives.

The stage set up is minimal, a toilet and a large stack of toilet paper (very on theme with the title of the play) behind the actors. Olivia McKenna, Robert Downie, and Rick Scully should be praised for their work as sound and lighting can often be forgotten and is never given enough credit in a performance. Their contributions to this production should really be praised, as the intense and powerful moments were given so much more impact because of their input.

Charlotte and Scully are two of the most talented and charismatic performers I’ve seen on the stage. Both are wonderful examples of having a commanding, captivating stage presence that has an emotional impact which stays with you after you’ve left the venue. Both actors are seasoned and without a doubt, know how to tell their characters’ stories perfectly. Some moments are very confronting, but you really feel for these characters, and the content, although incredibly hard, is never mishandled. Admittedly during the show, I felt like stepping onto the stage, to give them a supportive hug the way you would a friend, and this feeling is something not many actors can achieve when given difficult content.

This is the kind of performance that needs to be seen. Pieces of Shit is a bold, brave, thought provoking and confronting powerful production that displays the reality of being human, no matter how strong or unshakable you appear to be. It addresses that what we see in the media on an almost daily basis has consequences outside of what we perceive.

Pieces of Shit is now on at Melbourne’s The Butterfly Club until the 14th of May.
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Photography by Cameron Grant.

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