Fred Astaire singing ‘Night and Day’ is a good way to start anything. Made for Each Other, a one-man comedy about modern love and marriage, is served with a generous helping of Cole Porter. This is a celebration of the archetypal love story. Jerry and Vincent, a gay couple in present-day New York, have their ups, downs and doubts like any other couple. Vincent’s mother is dying of Alzheimer’s and Jerry can’t give up smoking. Whilst its jokes occasionally fall flat, this simple but heartfelt show, written by Monica Bauer and performed by John Fico, is much like the relationship it depicts: sometimes amusing and a little sad.
Same-sex marriage has just been approved in New York State and Vincent has just been proposed to. He’s a little flustered and understandably so - he’s only been seeing Jerry for three days. They met in Vincent’s mother’s hospital ward, where Jerry is a nurse. Later, we are told that Vincent has never come out, but Fico’s Vincent at first seemed too confident when discussing his sexuality for this to ring true. The show’s four characters are all clearly defined through excellent physicality and accent work from Fico and minimal costume changes.
In addition to Jerry and Vincent, neurotic texting lovers of the digital age, we meet Jerry’s Grandpa Di and Vincent’s flamboyant former-actress mother. These two goad, encourage, guilt-trip and shout directions from inside Jerry and Vincent’s minds. Fico’s best performance is perhaps as Grandpa Di - he’s mastered a New York Italian accent and an excellent old-man cough. His vocal work just saves Vincent’s mother from becoming too much of an overly-camp drag queen, as he doesn’t use falsetto but softens and thins his voice to sound like an elderly woman rather than a screaming chicken.
Not all of Made for Each Other’s humour is completely fresh. Jokes about overbearing mothers and gay men loving musicals are meat that’s already been through the sitcom grinder one time too many. Still, sometimes Made for Each Other’s saving grace is its normality. Vincent and Jerry are a couple in a familiar situation. They find themselves rushing into a marriage, each bringing along his share of weaknesses and regrets. Anyone can relate.
Like its vintage soundtrack, Made for Each Other is sometimes a little worn and trite, but some things never change and don’t have to. Romantic comedies are always the same, no matter who the players are. At the altar or arguing on the phone, people in love are just people. This intimate one-man show is a pleasant break from some of Fringe’s more abnormal acts and is worth seeing, especially if you are a sitcom fan or New York native. Seriously though, who can resist some Cole Porter?