A brilliant concept with talented actors but the writing falls flat. I love a dark comedy so thought this would be the show for me. The comedy follows the recently engaged Phil (Ben Noble) and Lily (Wendy Bos) having just moved to Toronto to pursue Lily’s career. The move and the relationship turmoil results in Phil developing severe paranoia, delusional and obsessive behaviour. Having suffered a psychotic break, Phil has covered the house with blood. But where did the blood come from and what will Lily say when she comes home?
Although the root idea was an interesting and unique starting point, I couldn’t help but be disappointed. The Australian play is over-run with simple, cliché gimmicks that go on for way too long. The jokes were light and almost childlike; raccoons stalking you home complete with impressions, Chad the dick-head boss and a fluffy pink bathrobe. Not exactly what I would call ‘black humour.’ Instead of complementing the subject matter it completely clashed. One joke stood out and stunned the audience, but not in a good way. When talking about the threat of jail time, of course they mention ‘dropping the soap.’ That was expected and playfully tip-toed around the issue. That is until Lily says ‘I’m sure the first time you get raped is the worst.’ Finally a dark joke but not funny or necessary.
The twist was shocking and revealed at just the right time. Changing my perception of the play as I thought this would set it off in a different direction. But disappointingly it fell back on the obvious jokes again. There are moments where the action is hidden behind a white sheet, expecting the audience to be patient, which they haven’t really earned. And after one too many dry retches, I found it hard to keep caring for these characters.
The relationship seemed pretty unbelievable. A beautiful successful woman with an overweight lazy man-child with serious social problems as a fiancée. But the match wasn’t what made it unbelievable to me. The characters definitely seemed familiar with each other’s company but as friends. There was no sexual chemistry. They rely on the age-old troupe of the bossy controlling woman who pushes her boyfriend to grow up. He even goes as far as to blame her for his violent mistake stating: ‘This wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t mother me so much!’ Lazy and slightly offensive as there wasn’t any clear comment the writer was making. Perhaps if they denounced his behaviour, making it clear it was his inability to take responsibility that was his undoing or the female character didn’t actually exist. But no, he was just painted as plain old crazy.
The actors did their best with the lines and their natural talent shines through. In particular, Noble develops a childlike, nervous energy which is both haunting and entertaining. This show had so much potential, so it was disappointing to see it squandered on cheap, basic jokes.
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