Ross and Rachel

James Fritz

Motor Theatre

The Lowry, Salford

On 30 June 2016

Review by David Upton

Definitely not one to see on a first date, James Fritz’s play clinically dissects a couple’s relationship in 50 minutes flat.

It’s already been acclaimed in Edinburgh and New York and is now on a short UK tour. And while it may take its name from the ‘will-they, won’t-they’ couple in American romcom Friends, or uses Dire Straits’s "Romeo and Juliet" as its opening refrain, it digs deeper—and faster—into the myths of love.

The hopes, dreams, and horrors, of a modern young couple are laid bare as their lives together are created, tested and stretched to an almost unbearable breaking point in a thoroughly disquieting drama. The lyrics of "I’ll Be There For You" acquire a deep and darker irony...

Young actress Molly Vevers inhabits both characters to churn out a stream of conscious and unconscious exchanges between them. It’s not always clear, or comfortable, who might be saying what to whom. Parts of it could be text exchanges, other moments border on psychobabble, but tune in to it and there is an unerring truth, as well as a desperate passion to Vevers’s delivery.

She performs it all around, and ultimately in, a shallow pool of water—the dramatic significance of which becomes all too clear as the relationship moves towards a harrowing conclusion.

The performance has already won her a significant award and its literally immersive quality assures Vevers of a bright career path. Fritz’s play occasionally bears a passing resemblance to Constellations, seen here last year, and also dealing in the emotional fallout of love, life and loss, but it also marks him out as an assertive and exciting young playwright.