Ross & Rachel

Ross & Rachel is an exploration of beyond ‘happily ever after’, using the two Friends characters we all know so well as a medium through which to explore the artifice of relationships and our expectations of them.

This show is a fascinating exploration of the value of independence in a relationship and the external pressures of falling in love, so ubiquitous in the media.

The hour-long monologue is delivered with immense skill by actor Molly Vevers who never flinches or hesitates in her perfect delivery of an emotional and experimental piece. Despite the script holding no distinction between which character’s thoughts, words and feelings are being expressed, the audience never gets lost or confused. A strength of the play’s direction, by Thomas Martin, is the simple nature of the piece which allows the audience to focus on the script and performance without the distraction of a complicated set or blocking.

The script itself is exquisitely written. It plays on the clichés of sitcoms and their romance storylines to perfection, demonstrating the characters’ longing for the perfect ‘Ross and Rachel’ true-love relationship that they outwardly seem to have. It further explores the pressures put on real-life couples by these tropes and their prevalence in our culture. Writer James Fritz has done this by taking his starting point from the moment that the ‘will they, won’t they’ became ‘they will’, and has driven the story of the couple that everyone wanted to be together to what could be seen as its natural conclusion.

One of the play’s strengths is that it takes full advantage of the fact that no character development is needed: most - likely all - of the audience have known these characters for years. Subtle references to minor character points are seamlessly inserted into the script and add a depth to the play. These moments often provide a comic relief to a piece otherwise struck by a deeply sad disillusionment - one that could be overwhelming without these moments of lightheartedness.

It is clear, however, that the characters’ trajectories are rooted in the author’s personal take on their personalities. The conclusion he reaches with each one therefore stems from a take on these characters that is not necessarily shared by every viewer. The result can be jarring in places, as we lose the familiar feel of Ross & Rachel’s personality traits. That said, this show is a fascinating exploration of the value of independence in a relationship and the external pressures of falling in love, so ubiquitous in the media. 

Reviews by Laurie Kilmurry

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Pleasance Dome

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★★★★
New Town Theatre

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★★★
Just the Tonic at The Tron

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★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

'I can't stop staring at the couples. Who will leave? Who will cheat? Who will die first? Her. Her. Him.' A dark and uncompromising new play about romance, expectation and mortality, Ross & Rachel tells the mind-bending, heartbreaking story of what happens when a couple that was always meant to be together, gets together. And stays together. In this disquieting duologue for one performer, 2015 Olivier Award nominee James Fritz (4m12s, Hampstead) takes an unflinching look at the myths of modern love. World premiere. 'My favourite new play of the year' (ExeuntMagazine.com, on James Fritz's Lines).