Play Actually – A Non Rom Com
Tim Monley and Katy Houska @ The Tuxedo Cat – Cat Bowl
9:45pm, Thu 7 Mar 2013
It’s the opening night of Play Actually, and there’s not a whole lot of people in… which is a massive shame, because this was absolutely cracking good fun, with Tim Monley and Katy Houska presenting a series of sketches exploring the theme of modern courtship: from impromptu meetings to organised services, from lust to love.
Whilst there’s a thin narrative threading the sketches together, it’s the longer scenes that permit relatively incongruous topics to be explored: speed dating, self-help books, and awkward first dates all get a look-in, but it’s the exploration of relationships in virtual reality – with Houska and Monley using two inflatable sex dolls as puppet avatars – that steals the most laughs for its sheer absurdity.
That shouldn’t take anything away from the rest of the script, however: some of Monley’s pick-up tips were gloriously bad, only matched by the naïve optimism of Houska’s love advice. And the performances are absolutely spot-on: played for laughs, they veer wildly between playing-it-straight and hamming-it-up (and everywhere inbetween).
And whilst there’s no denying that Play Actually suffered from opening-night roughness (with occasional cues being nodded to their tech as they felt out the stage), there’s also no doubting the incredible chemistry that Houska and Monley have onstage. They manage to imbue all their characters – yes, even the sex dolls – with completely believable levels of smitten-ness, and their comic timing and physicality keep the laughs rolling. And that all makes for a fantastic way to spend an hour with your platonic love.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 7, 2013