Ross & Rachel

Billed as a 'dark, uncompromising play about the myths of modern love', this starts promisingly enough but soon veers off. It is unclear at the start that this is a one woman show - perhaps she is practicing to herself for a conversation that was happening later, and the male character would appear? But no, this is a dialogue between Ross and Rachel, and it is hard at times to discern who is speaking, especially as much of it is spoken quickly. Beyond a slight tonal voice change, there was no physical change in the actor, which, however slight, would have helped to avoid confusion.

The publicity promised much but the script was immature and weak.

The beginning holds much potential: why is her name always second, why does he always speak for her? Especially for women who have been brought up on the idea of striving for a 'fairytale ending' together? At the beginning, Rachel has lost sight of who she is in her own right, and this is an interesting theme to explore. We gain insights into her thoughts and feelings, her crush on her work friend Daniel, and her fantasies of a romantic tryst between them. It is clear that being with Ross has squashed her individuality.

However, after a very short time the whole play changes as he is diagnosed with a brain tumour and given 12 months to live. So, what could have been interesting then becomes her coping with his impending death, having been about to leave him. Guilt, despair, a whole gamut of emotions could have been explored but was instead shown as numbness.

The way Ross died at the end was drawn out in a way that just felt highly manipulative, while this left Rachel free to find herself outside of a couple and make it interesting again, the play ended.

The whole play seems to relate to the actual characters Ross and Rachel from hit TV show Friends, which is a little odd. Rather than simply using the names as a conceit to indicate the 'ideal' couple that so many people in the 90’s believed in, the references in the play are all about the characters in the show, even the reference to the infamous 'we were on a break', with Rachel still seeming to be obsessed about Ross having slept with someone else. This was was hard to believe. Showing a couple who have more in common, bear closer resemblance to life, and have more grounding in reality would have made for far more poignant viewing and been closer to how the show was described and billed.

It’s a play that obviously resonated with some audience members, who were sobbing, but there were also several seen yawning and looking at their watches. Some of them raved about the actor’s performance, but it lacked depth and was disingenuous. At one point she broke down in sobs but it just wasn’t believable - a shame, the publicity promised much but the script was immature and weak.

Reviews by Susanne Crosby

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The Blurb

What happens when two friends who were always meant to be together, get and stay together? No one told them life was gonna be this way. “Look at all those couples out there. Which one will leave. Which one is cheating on the other ?” This is the one that rubbishes the very idea of 'the one'. A dark, uncompromising play about the myths of modern love. Featuring Joanna Rosenfeld Directed by Sam Chittenden Pretty Villain are Brighton Fringe Award Winners 2014, 2015, 2106 and 2018

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