The things that make a long term relationship fail, or cruel a romantic partnership in its early stages, or perhaps even stunt the development of a potential new coupling; self-doubt, fear, jealousy, insecurity, competing priorities, low self-esteem… wearing clothes that look like they’ve been picked out by your mum. All of them are human foibles, all instantly recognisable and relatable in one form or another. This is the basis for three short plays under the moniker Love and Hate performed at The Flaming Locomotive more commonly known as the theatrette at the WA Art Gallery.
All three are thematically linked but feature different scenarios and actors. There is an ingenious centrepiece by Designer Cherie Hewson that is used to represent a fridge in Text; turned ninety degrees to reveal a bookcase for Williamsburg; and another turn later is a front loaded washing machine in Let’s Launder Together!
Each two-hander is well acted and represents different stages of a relationship. In Text Benj D’addario’s working class husband is sprung by his wife (Talei Howell-Price) as he raids the fridge late one night for more booze. He urges her to go back to sleep but she stays and the conversation turns into an interrogation about her whereabouts on a recent trip to South Africa in her capacity as a sports writer. Accusations of infidelity quickly follow and the whole thing spirals into dark territory with a few twists along the way.
The acting here was nicely calibrated, however, the dialogue was a tad theatrical for mine with plenty of use of repetition, misdirection and the subtext writ large. It flirts with testing our suspension of disbelief as the plot machinations play out but D’addario and Howell-Price keep the whole thing grounded with honest performances.
Emily Rose Brennan plays an Australian in the US who is in a relationship with Christopher Sansoni’s colourful Yank in Williamsburg. Yet both seem unsure why and clutch at reasons why things should continue including having children. Brennan is all fresh faced enthusiasm in contrast to the eccentricities Sansoni brings to his character. This middle section was a more straight forward exploration of a couple figuring out where they stood in relation to each other.
By contrast the last scene brought the laughs with Salacia Briggs and Barnaby Pollock doing a ‘cute meet’ at a laundromat with each vocalising their inner-monologues of doubts, fears, attraction, urges and hilarious self-criticism. How do you talk to the cute girl or boy who just happens to appear when you’re doing the washing? What stops you? What makes you summon the courage to say something? What makes you want to kick yourself when you fluff it? Or better yet high five yourself when you stutter into a conversation. Showcasing lovely comic timing in a squirm inducing situation everybody can sympathise with this was a very engaging way to end the show.
Love and Hate is on at The Flaming Locomotive which is a cool and comfortable venue in the heart of all things Fringe at the Cultural Centre. It is written and directed by Damon Lockwood for Lockwood Productions and is on until 20 February.