Simon & Susy is a two hander piece about the awkward love blossoming between a couple of social misfits. Susy is a shut in, terrified of the outside world, but greatly attracted to a call centre worker, Simon. The attraction is mutual, and it is with great, awkward patience that the two are brought together at Susy’s apartment. Simon starts off on the other side of Susy’s door, and he slowly gains her trust, with quite a few setbacks, enough to be allowed into her house. Through stop-start conversation, the two characters get to know each other, trying to break through the various misunderstandings that come up when anybody puts their heart on the line.
The first section of the play, where Susy is warming to Simon as he waits in the hallway to be let in is a cracker in terms of timing. Some of the jokes are fairly good, but it is soon after Simon’s entrance that weaknesses start to appear in the characterisation of the two leads. This becomes most apparent when the character of Simon inexplicably launches into a ten minute long explanation of the tertiary public education system, followed by a slightly shorter but even more awkward monologue on how interest rates work. These two long pieces of filler might have been better accepted had either of the two characters had a greater depth to them, but unfortunately these well turned rants highlight the fact that Simon and Susy are really just vehicles for either comedy or an extension of the writer’s psyche. While there is nothing wrong with Simon’s argument about public education, it doesn’t extend the story. At the end of the speech Simon apologises for being boring. When Susy, with lacklustre, reassures him that it was interesting, it indicates that maybe the monologue should not have been included in the script. With Simon once again retreating back into awkwardness, you find that you have discovered nothing new about the character, nor have you found yourself more endeared to him.
Similarly with Susy, the initial presentation of her character – highly strung, awkward yet endearing – turns into the entirety of her being. Her sporadic sexual confidence comes from nowhere, and her reactions to the unfolding situation is incoherent. It is incoherent in that the nature of her mental state is at no point established, again meaning that there can be no extension of her character beyond that. Plainly, her illness is her whole being, her entire personality, whether it is meant to be or not. In short Susy comes off as wacky and hysterical. When the time comes for her to speak about what is important to her, partly in response to Simon’s talk about student politics, she vaguely asserts her fears about the environment, a monologue that makes her appear, in opposition to Simon’s brief gift of eloquence, inarticulate, hysterical, patronised.
There were many likeable parts to Simon & Susy. The acting was mannered and well timed, the set and lighting was unobtrusive, the initial concept of the whole piece was interesting, but it needed much more depth, both to the concept and characters, so that it played as more than a comedy sketch or a direct reflection of the creators’ thoughts.
Simon & Susy playing at Cromwell Rd Theatre, South Yarra 3141, 27a Cromwell Rd, 8pm 3rd-7th of March