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The Fantastical Journey of Not Being With You

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Life is an adventure, especially when we meet someone with whom our lives become more exciting and playful, but also more difficult. This beautifully written play by writer/director Justen Bennett stars Max Wilson as character A and Ryan Wichert as character B, a pair who take on the stage and for 80 minutes take the audience on a captivating ride through their relationship.

With a childlike openness the two actors switch from brilliant, quick-paced clownesque sketches to intimate moments, which immediately draw the audience in and hold their attention throughout.

A and B meet, start a relationship and play. They hurt each other and find themselves in power struggles, which bring them together and tear them apart. Their only props are two small suitcases packed with an array of simple, surprising objects with which they demonstrate a huge playfulness. Light and darkness (by lighting designer Karl Oskar Sordal) also play a big part in the show, with one particular game leaving the audience excited by the darkness.

Accurate choreography and a perfect physicality (movement director David Ralfe trained at the Jacques Lecoq theatre school in Paris) show a great understanding of comic and emotional timing. No matter how small a movement is, the focus is always clear and the story moves on moment by moment. Some of the build-ups could be a little bit tighter but there is never an uninteresting moment.

Wilson and Wichert are an adorable duo who manage to portray silliness without being flat and romance without playing the stereotypical gay couple. Both parts could be played by either men or women and the play's gender-neutrality adds great scope to the show. Even though written and played in a heightened, comical form, each sentence could, and probably has been, said by every one who have ever been in a relationship or close friendship.

It is a play about control and manipulation, about saying what one feels and how the other reacts, about connecting and disconnecting in a playful way but with profundity. The chemistry between the two players is excellent and they fascinate and move the audience.

It ends beautifully – touching and sad, yet still full of humour. It leaves a lump in the throat and a longing to go on that journey with someone by your side.


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