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Where We Are Now | Annka Kulty's Gallery

The show begins on a rather whimsical note. Set in a little music store, a record player starts playing. With the actual venue being a rather intimate space in a tucked away art gallery, with an exhibition surrounding the space, the environment bursts with creativity. The two actors are already on stage and remain motionless, merely accompanying the record player, with faraway expressions for a long five or so minutes. This does begin to drag slightly towards the end as we wait for the record to finish, but it allows the audience an opportunity to observe the actors, builds up the anticipation and the crackling player is a calming sound.

Miles (Cal Newman) remains relaxed during these first few minutes. He appears mostly confused or amused by the music, his fellow actor and the room, and is dressed in a rather funny tshirt featuring a broken gingerbread man. Florence (Greta Hansen) by contrast is dressed in a more fitted waistcoat and suit, with an overall tensed nature, an angrier expression and heavy breathing.

The characters launch into a rapidfire dialogue almost immediately and it's clear from the get go of the awkward tension between them. The two converse without really saying much, and it feels as though they are not on the same wavelength, with overlapping answers and different pacing. There are repeated phrases such as "I should leave", "I really need to leave" and "you've changed", which helps to gain the audience's interest in unearthing the history that they share. The story thrives off of this built up anticipation as it's hard to be invested in the two characters catching up.

Florence immediately comes across as rude, high strung, dramatic and larger than life, with her sharper language. We do explore more about her as the piece progresses, yet throughout it, I found it a bit hard to believe her as a character. Not that Greta Hansen hasn't done an excellent job. Her ability to hyperventilate, speak quickly and breakdown are incredibly well-acted and I genuinely felt as though I was imposing on a vulnerable moment. Miles is much more likeable with his corny jokes, a slower and kinder tone, a tendency to tease both himself and her, make pop culture references and puns. His presence is warmer and calming, which the show needs. It's Miles' character that initially carries the show, and Cal Newman does an exceptional job throughout.

The premise of the show is the pair having a conversation now, and reflecting on what once was between them and how a person changes overtime. This leads to several really interesting observations such as a comparison between Florence's father and God "I had faith in him, but he was never really there", and the need for stability "the dream had to die at some point."

The two characters are stranded in Miles' music shop, after a faulty door handle leaves them trapped together. The idea, whilst can be funny if done right, seems a little unoriginal here. Especially with Florence reacting to this discovery with a reaction that would be more fitting if she'd witnessed a horrific crime. The overly dramatic reaction almost seemed mocking of this "trapped together" trope. We discover that Miles has overcome a coke addiction and this is the show's most sensitive conversation. His monologue here is very well-written and I loved the line "I've been sober for two years, nine months and a day at a time" which ties back to the recovery initiative "a day at a time." He's also honest about still being an addict for wanting to drink, but fighting the urge everyday. This is supported later with his insistence of being "a good person. I'm not perfect, but I'm trying."

Florence, whilst initially proud and happy for Miles, later keeps throwing it in his face which, while kind of justified in their relationship, seems harsh, and makes it harder to root for her. A big reveal about their past together attempts to help the audience sympathise with Florence, however all this truly does, is alienate us from Miles as well. I will admit I was still rooting for him though, as I enjoy imperfect characters and their character growth arcs. The reveal is done well, both elevating yet defusing an argument and it's an effective technique that's used again towards the end of the show, during another argument.

The show tries to portray Florence as someone who has her life together; atleast on a surface level. She's in a happier relationship and owns her own successful talent agency, yet we don't have time to explore these and they are mostly used to provoke a reaction from Miles. There's a rather awkward moment wherein Florence tries to flaunt her current sex life to an already jealous Miles.

The show tries hard to defend and explain Florence with a well-written monologue about how she has been has been "shrinking herself for others", yet it's still hard to sympathise with her as we see no evidence of this. The writing in this moment is honestly the best in the show and the pause following gives the audience a moment to reflect about these truths in regards to their own lives.

Ironically, it's a passionate speech from a frustrated Miles that garners the most sympathy for Florence. His rant revolves around the constant sense of disapproval he'd face from Florence's mother, and her high standards of perfection. This would have been the standout moment of the piece, however Miles soon crosses a line and begins to use her parents divorce against her.

It's quite interesting to see a show that doesn't shy away from the darker sides of one's past struggles, how this could have negatively impacted them, and how love can turn into hatred. However in a shorter 45-minute piece, we don't have enough time to know the characters for this to seem genuine. We approach the end of the piece with a confession from Miles and an incredibly well acted hysterical laugh from Florence, and this provides a solid ending. There is still a sense of unfinished business though, and whilst it may have been an intentional decision, I personally feel they could have filled it out a bit longer.

Overall the premise is interesting, Miles is a character we're invested in, a lot of strong writing and memorable and thought provoking quotes, but it struggles to bring them together in a more natural way. The show has so much potential and with two incredible actors, I'm excited to see what it does next.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review


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