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Fringe review: Undertow

Adelaide Fringe

Pitched as a slice-of-life dark comedy, Undertow takes place in the living room of a couple whose marriage of 20 or so years is placed under tremendous strain. ★★★

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Comedian Jasmine Fairbairn wrote the play and also plays Rebecca, the wife and mother of two adult sons, while Clayton Storey is her husband, James.

Undertow – directed by Simon Denver begins with the couple feeling free as they now have the house to themselves, but the rekindled romance does not last long and undercurrents of tension surface as they have to deal with elderly parents, work and others in their lives. Their relationship becomes more volatile when unexpected news raises significant issues with the pair and they begin to question their marriage and whether they want to be together.

Fairbairn’s script depicts realistically the tension between couples, with things said in haste or anger that cannot be easily taken back, but occasionally it is predictable and becomes melodramatic. Numerous incidents seem to be inserted to give the play a dramatic jolt, but they then become tangents that are unexplored, and the ending is anti-climactic given the conflict and animosity we have witnessed between Rebecca and James.

Undertow has the potential to be an explosive exposition of the complexities of a long-term relationship if the audience was able to feel more for each of the characters and their positions were perhaps a little more plausible.

Undertow is at Holden Street Theatres until March 16. See more Adelaide Fringe reviews and stories here.

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