Phillip A Mayer’s Couples aims to shed light on marriage, commitment and love for four different couples attending a relationship therapy weekend at the fictional Paradise Valley Couples Retreat. Whether it actually does explore those themes is debatable.
It’s by Gippsland-based company Here There & Everywhere and comes to La Mama with awards and nominations from the 2014 Touring Victoria One Act Play Festival.
Couples opens with a production line of introductions where we meet the couples one by one to see why they’re attending the weekend retreat. Here, the women are the ones who drag the men along to counseling, and the men are ones who express their distaste for the whole idea. From there, we’re given a blow-by-blow airing of grievances with pun-heavy dialogue and not too much analysis.
Co-director Julia Lambert is the stand out as the lawyer Rachel from Kew. She’s bold and over the top but she is entertaining.
However, the show seems to operate within a world of clichés and stereotypes. There’s the princess, the bohemian, the hipster, and a “knuckle dragging bogan”. The shots are cheap and characterizations are lazy – particularly the ones about women. It seems that when trying to mirror real life relationship problems across five different couples, stereotypes become necessary in lieu of development.