- Eddie Harrison
- 4 August 2019
Deft, funny two-hander about a relationship on the rocks
'All I want is to be famous and have other people be jealous of me…' coos Julia (Therese Plaehn) in Lizzie Vieh's play Monsoon Season. 'Is that too much to ask?' Such nakedly self-centred thinking is at the heart of a two-hander which bills itself as a 'brutally demented romantic comedy'.
Julia is a mother with a drug problem, several jobs, not enough money and probably another 99 problems to solve, but her ex isn't one. Danny (Richard Thieriot) is out of the house and out of her hair; he's decanted to a crummy room next to Peaches' strip club in Phoenix Arizona. Except Danny is finding his way back into her life, even if only to peer through a hole he's cut in her screen door.
Most rom-coms deal with a relationship coming together. Directed by Kristin McCarthy Parker, this one deals with one unravelling – big time. What's most notable here is the playing; Thieriot kicks things off with a Bill Murray-type deadpan insouciance as he outlines his predicament, wringing laughs easily from observational humour as he develops his moan about how his ex gets everything her own way.
At the mid-point, the audience swaps places and listens to Julia's side of the story; the fresh POV reveals that neither character is able to see the bigger picture. Perhaps the resolution is a little too easy to find, but Monsoon Season is such a great little show, it leaves the audience wanting more and there's real potential for expansion too.
Thieriot and Plaehn nail their characters, and while the scene-changes are a little lugubrious, this is a model of what a Fringe show should be from Off Broadway's AFO company. Neil Simon-style two-handers might be out of fashion, but Monsoon Season's accessibility, humanity and high level of engagement make this show easy to recommend.
Underbelly, until 25 Aug (not 12, 19), 2.25pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10).