Review by Cicely Binford
Writer/director Jeffrey Jay Fowler teams up with Georgia King and Mark Storen, who make shows under the moniker Whiskey & Boots (although I’m unsure which one is Whiskey and which one is Boots), to present a cool, smart, and sultry show about the turbulent state of modern marriage in THE ONE. The show originally ran at Fringe World earlier this year, and has now just closed its second run at the Subiaco Theatre Festival.
THE ONE is a classic tale of boy-meets-girl, but with all the contemporary angst of Western coupling culture heaped on top, plus a few tunes thrown in for good measure. Happy endings are nowhere in sight (but do we even believe in those anymore?), nor are there any clear, satisfying answers to the dilemma this couple faces (ambiguity is here to stay, in case you hadn’t noticed). Nevertheless, their story is familiar and relatable in different ways, even to different age brackets and couple types. It’s about commitment, and that’s a tough subject to tackle in this fickle world.
I could argue that the show is a departure for Fowler, but that would be somewhat inaccurate; he has always shown a flair for domestic crisis, though admittedly sometimes he sets his conflicts in weird worlds that blackly mirror our own. Here, though, we see a couple struggling to come together under the strain of our own gender politics, which are burdensome enough without the threat of apocalypse or other outside forces that sometimes pop up in JJF’s work compounding the situation. He does bring current debates about marriage equality and feminism to the fore, so there’s no thematic subterfuge (as far as I can tell), but that’s perfectly reasonable. Let’s talk about sex (and marriage), baby.
The ‘boy’ is Mark Storen, the ‘girl’ Georgia King. They alternate between narrators and actors in the unfolding drama, and they use song and spoken word to paint a vivid, detailed picture of their lives as individuals and as a couple. Whenever King takes the stage (which seems to be too rare these days) I breathe a sigh of relief; she’s commanding, focused, sharp, present. Her performance in THE ONE is no exception, though she appears to have softened around a few of her edges, and shows quite a lot of vulnerability. We wouldn’t recognize Storen without his signature hat and guitar as he croons his way through a story. Here his character sings songs at King rather than speaking his mind, which causes consternation, especially when he sings a most beautiful, wistful rendition of “Lost That Loving Feeling.”
THE ONE is lyrical, sensual, intimate and well-crafted. As an opener for the fourth annual Subiaco Theatre Festival, you couldn’t ask for any better than this cream-of-the-crop Fringe hit, and if you missed it again, then I hate to tell you, you missed out on one of the year’s best shows.