By Marti Ibrahim
These days, there is no escaping the fact that we live in a fast-paced, high-stress world. ‘Two Twenty Somethings’ is a play written by Michael Costi, and directed by Eve Beck for the 2019 Melbourne Fringe Festival. The two twenty somethings are stressed, they’re worried and they’re anxious – sometimes about the small things (like what that prayer hands emoji really means and whether it’s okay to wear a sombrero to a party), other times about the big things (like the state of the world in which we live, and what ISIS is doing out there).
Beck has created a wonderfully sharp, entertaining piece of theatre. She is helped by Costi’s punchy writing and the production designer’s beautifully understated set – “FRAGILE” sticky tape marks out a diamond shape playing space and the outline of a doorway. The space is sparsely furnished with a two seater couch, a toilet, and a small kitchen bench, all of which are tightly wrapped in cling wrap. Props and various costume items are brought seamlessly into the space by the actors.
In this production, the two twenty somethings are excellently played by Tom Anson Mesker and Jasmin Simmons. Mesker and Simmons move about the space with ease and a familiarity that one would expect from a young couple doing their best to make it work. “I’m stressed,” proclaims Simmons to open the play. “I’m worried,” says Mesker. Then, once they’ve listed all the things that make them anxious, and Mesker fails to make dinner, the pair decide that they will never get stressed about anything ever again. They will do this in several ways. She will start a youtube channel, he will get his dream job, they will make new friends.
Their new best friend is played by Ryan Hodson, who brings a lovely calmness to his interpretation of his character. It is a nice contrast to the preceding angst (which, don’t get me wrong, is very entertaining to watch). Suddenly, our two heroes exclaim, “I feel enriched!” and “I feel inspired!”. Finally, they are calm and relaxed.
But the reprieve from their stressful existence is short lived, as their new world throws up further challenges for them to be stressed about and to attempt to overcome. The play then changes tone somewhat, as the two conclude that instead of not getting stressed at all, they need to learn key survival skills, which they will attain by facing the adversity of being poor.
When this fails too, the two twenty somethings and their new friend (all of whom remain nameless, by the way) decide that they shouldn’t care about anything at all – indeed, why should they care when the world doesn’t care about them? To close the play, the three of them refrain in song, “No one cares, so why should we?” The question is left unresolved.
This is a short, 60-minute play that is well acted, well directed, and well supported by the technical team. Perhaps the only criticism is that I would have liked to see that final question further explored in the writing. Instead, this serious question is left hanging, and the audience walks away with a sense of hopelessness and the futility of existence. But the production itself is nevertheless sharp, witty, punchy, funny, and entertaining.
Congratulations to Bite Productions for creating a lovely night out at Theatre Works.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.