Sweet Phoebe, written by Michael Gow and directed by Paul Knox, is a cracker of a play, a thoroughly enjoyable and superbly acted story about one couple's relationship melt-down. The Phoebe of the title is a dog and when she goes missing, the effect on this young urban professional couple's life is devastating. The real joy is this work is watching what happens beneath the story, seldom is subtext such a dynamic presence on stage; in this work subtext is almost a character in its own right. This aspect makes Sweet Phoebe a real delight to experience.
What could have been tired subject matter is presented with verve and truly original comedy in Sweet Phoebe. Seasoned British actor Adam Ward and the marvellously named Wallis Murphy-Munn, both new to Melbourne, each do terrifically dynamic turns as Frazier and Helen, 'a nice couple in a nice life', 'over-sharing' their external experiences to the point where they are unable to actually respond to each other, saving any spontaneous and authentic emotional engagement for the outside world. Seeing how they are forced by their respective experiences to face the uncomfortable distances between them is both hilarious and poignant.
A two-hander which holds its own throughout, Sweet Phoebe is a nicely paced, highly amusing and well constructed work which plays out as a parody of a sitcom; it is marred only by the cheesy musical piece between scenes: the length and tenor of this element should have been altered much earlier on, especially the length; it's annoying and distracting as is. The ending is understated and satisfying with the narrative arc coming to rest on a hopeful note.
Sweet Phoebe is terrific theatre with all the right ingredients and with any luck will get another Melbourne run.
Corner Boy Productions presents
by Michael Gow
Directed by Paul Knox
Venue: Revolt | 12 Elizabeth Street Kensington VIC
Dates: June 7 – 23, 2012
Tickets: $25 – $20