ONstage: Stand Up Love – Intimacy and solitude in codependent collision (Review)

Stand Up Love: PHOTO: Oliver Morse.

Stand Up Love: PHOTO: Oliver Morse.

Stand Up Love 

Written by Gavin McGibbon

Directed by Adam Goodall

Presented by Making Friends Collective

at BATS Theatre30 Nov 2016 to 10 Dec 2016
[1 hr 10 mins]

I couldn’t help but feel this play to be somewhat gratuitous and a little clichéd. Another failed relationship to unpack and watch unravel before us. What makes this play different from the rest? Perhaps by virtue of it feeling uncomfortable it is effective. Relationships can bring out the best and worst in people. Vicariously through Ana (Rachel Baker) and Freddy (Jonny Potts) we may find a little piece of a former failed relationship, or dare I say it, a current one. This is testimony to Stand Up Love’s “I’ll be your mirror” reflection.

I came to like and loathe these characters in equal measure. The play does well to explore the shadow self in relation to Other. There is a push and pull of intimacy and solitude that set Ana and Freddy up as being both enmeshed and alone in their relationship, yet for vastly different reasons. Freddy is a stand up comedian stuck in the moment. He’s seeking an elusive affirmation from his audience and solace in a beer. Ana brings home the bacon but is always pushing her own agenda. She wants Freddy to need her and make her feel special; in fact Ana is so desperate to feel more of an emotional commitment from Freddy that she feigns an affair. The fact that she plays on Freddy’s predilection to want redemption from childhood guilt is loathsome, especially because Ana’s lie intersects with his mother’s own indiscretion. Yet don’t feel too sorry for Freddy. He is so self-absorbed in his own comedic routine and cynical self-destruction that he can’t quite see he’s weaving a self-fulfilling prophecy and taking Ana along for the ride.

The set, with no separation between their bedroom, living space and Freddy’s comedic platform echoed the codependence of their relationship and the baggage that was bought into it. The space was caustic due to the tension and strewn chaos that surrounded them. The audience was right there with them in their dysfunction. Ultimately Ana and Freddy hurt each other and betray themselves by becoming trapped within their own words and the narrative they’ve woven around their relationship. As Freddy forebodes they’re “living in the shadow of decisions already made”.

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