Bernard and Miranda are living in marital bliss with their snail children. He's a traffic warden, she works in a library. The stage is set for an odd, Balamory-esque spectacle; however, the ominous portent of a ‘Before – Paris – After’ flat lurks in the background, a terse indicator of the shifts in time and tone to follow.
The piece begins with a retrospective commentary by Bernard: he explains how they featured in some documentary exploring human 'fight or flight' instincts after he stood frozen, watching while Miranda was attacked and robbed in their Parisian holiday apartment. The rest of the play flits between the build-up to their sojourn and the immediate aftermath, where we witness the effects of this trauma on their marriage.
Initially the couple is very kooky. They dress and act bizarrely and are high in camp value; presumably, we're supposed to think they're cute. They play games of make-believe, where anything is possible – one minute flying over the ocean, the next skiing, or perhaps dancing in Africa. After the incident in Paris she becomes the embodiment of immobility, while he feels useless and is unable to take control of the situation.
The (day)dreams the couple share are mildly amusing, but as much as they endear the couple to us, they put Miranda in the driving seat of their relationship - perhaps intended to obviate her powerlessness in the later scenes, when she unable to dream - and have an oddly perverse quality. The relationship is not believable, largely because Bernard is unconvincing as a straight man; theirs resembles more a fag hag and her gay best friend dynamic. This aspect hinders the play as it is difficult to figure out whether Miranda is living in denial as to her husband’s sexuality and if it would have something to do with the Big Event in Paris. It certainly appeared to have been engineered this way, with lines such as ‘I do love colour co-ordinating. It looks like a rainbow inside the bag!’ and a gag about squirting after-sun. Perhaps the aim was to present him as timid and sweet. In any case, since the pair are very much not your average couple, it'd be difficult for audience members to relate to or understand his actions in the Paris drama, or to imagine how an ordinary relationship might be affected by it, which seemed to be the play's aim.
Miranda inexplicably adopts a bad RP accent at times; she is overacted and exaggerated in her reactions, coming across increasingly as volatile and moody, maybe bipolar. Dorothy, a bad caricatur eof a thirty-something Art History grad type, is another loose end of the script, as her connection to Miranda seems to have no point. However, although It feels extraneous it is the funniest thing in the play. For a black comedy it's very downbeat and definitely stops being funny long before the end. Only see it if you're likely to be married with snails.