Phillip and Marjorie are a skilled double act whose thoroughly entertaining Marriage Preparation Course will hopefully not be taken seriously by many.
Accompanied by an impressive power-point presentation and a strange electric musical instrument which is brought in occasionally for emphasis, the pair are beautifully kitsch. The Course is not quite tongue in cheek, as the couple never drop their act, but it is wonderfully absurd. You will be guided through how to approach issues such as Money, Communication and The Sex by the gurus, who draw on numerous examples from their personal lives and reflect on the days when they were not banned from holding their marriage course in their home. Several of the jokes are cheaper or less well-crafted than others, which means that often the show relies on the pair’s fantastic characterisation to continue the momentum, but really this can be mostly forgiven – Phillip does need only to wheeze a little bit and the laughter will pick up again.
Whilst the duo mostly drive the show themselves, there is a little flirtation with audience participation. This is largely successful but it is a bit awkward – though awkwardness is the charm of this show. Phil and Marj are generally quite weird: Phil’s flies are undone throughout and they continually refer back to the All Knowing One - the Marriage Course in many ways feels like you’re attending a class to join a rather tame cult. This is hilarious in its way but will perhaps not be embraced by all audience members.
Ultimately, Phillip and Marjorie’s Marriage Preparation Course has a distinct originality underlying its construct and is highly amusing. The multimedia aspects are used to great effect and it is a shrewd performance; while there are moments of amusing spontaneity, it feels slickly rehearsed. Phil and Marj’s strange charisma provides a solid base which means that, even if the jokes are occasionally misjudged, the foundations of this performance are hilarious.