The Disturbed Couples Hour!
Accidental Productions @ CitySoul
6:00pm, Wed 9 Mar 2011
Problem Number One: “disturbed” these couples may be, but there’s an identifiable normalcy in what is presented here.
Problem Number Two: “hour” is a real stretch. Forty minutes, tops.
Great Thing Number One: the two short plays within The Disturbed Couples Hour! are written by Alan Ball… he of American Beauty (yay!), Six Feet Under (double yay!), and True Blood (erm…) fame.
Problem Number Three: Mr Ball was not at the top of his game, here.
…oh dear. That all makes me sound very negative, doesn’t it? But, truth be told, The Disturbed Couples Hour! wasn’t such a bad experience… but I’ve got a feeling that was due to the company (and the bubbles!) than the production.
The first play, Made for a Woman, shows us both sides of gender narcissism; both Man and Woman – both already impressive physical specimens – sharply satirise the efforts that we are prepared to go to in order to make ourselves look (even more) “perfect”. Once appropriately preened, the couple aren’t even really together – they’re totally disconnected from each other, barely able to communicate.
The second piece, The M Word, has a pair of “potential life partners” negotiating a relationship out of sheer convenience; their lack of will to hunt out a “better” partner draws them together, and the dry and perfunctory nature of their bargaining hints at a dark cynicism towards marriage.
Carissa Lee and Rowan Elliott Hopkins play the participants of the two couples, and there’s a sense of focussed determination in their performance – especially during Made for a Woman. Unfortunately, Ball’s scripts are really quite… ordinary. Short. Lacking in the dynamism that I’ve come to expect from him. And that’s a bit of a shame, really, because that’s something that Carissa and Rowan can’t overcome, no matter how determined they are.