You've probably heard plenty of stories about lucky couples who fall in love, get married and live happily-ever-after. But what happens when happily-ever-after turns sour? Or goes beyond sour and turns completely rancid?
There's not a wasted moment
Set in Phoenix, Arizona, Monsoon Season tells the story of Danny and Julia's divorce. We begin with Danny's story. Danny is an out-of-luck everyman. He works at a call centre and, after his ex took their child and house, he's been forced to move into a bedsit across from a strip club where the bright lights keep him awake all night long. The set is scattered with boxes filled with remnants of his previously content life - one is simply marked "board games".
Next is Julia's version of events. After a clever scene change, we're transported from Danny's apartment to Julia's family home. It transpires she's an Adderall addict and minor YouTube make up influencer, and she isn't living the life of Riley you might have supposed from Danny's initial description. Richard Thieriot plays Danny with wild wide eyes and an enforced smile, reminiscent of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. As Julia, Therese Plaehn injects her performance with a physical energy that will leave you breathless. Both are grotesque, but not entirely monsterous, and you can't help but switch between feeling sympathy and disgust for them.
Scriptwriter Lizzie Vieh is clearly very talented and has packed her script chock-a-block with dark humour. Director Kristin McCarthy Parker has kept a tight ship and there's not a wasted moment; both Thieriot and Plaehn are adept at drawing laughs out of every line. As a result, the two leads rattle through their scenes, taking the audience on a thrilling rollercoaster ride. Despite the continuous laughter, Monsoon Season maintains its dramatic tension from the outset. Everything, from the flickering lights to the regular references to bloodthirsty birds, is designed to unsettle you.
Monsoon Season has many twists and turns, but they're not completely unpredictable, and heightening the gore could have given this production just an extra edge. But forget Poirot, this performance is less about figuring out where the characters will end up and more about simply enjoying the ride. After all, this might not be the love story you'd want for yourself. But to watch? Yes, please.