Plus One

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2012

…Plus One is a character-based comedy about what happens when a group of old mates catch up for the first time in ages to support their flaky friend’s latest artistic venture. From the perpetually single thirty-something caught between Gens X & Y, to the beaming couple whose marital bliss is more than a little bit creepy, to the cashed-up former hippie who thinks baby seals are big enough to fend for themselves …Plus One celebrates all of them, and spares none of them. These guys share too much history and they’re carrying too much baggage…it’s time to unload.

Fiona Harris (Comedy Inc., The Librarians) and Mike McLeish (Keating! The Musical, Shane Warne The Musical) play all these characters – and more – in a comedy about fear of the future, secrets from the past, and an open bar in the present that will leave them all questioning if it’s really worth being anyone’s plus one – or if it’s just easier going it alone.

Written and performed by Fiona Harris & Mike McLeish

with original songs by Mike McLeish

Produced by Amanda Higgs

“…Plus One is a delightful, bite-size, piece of comic theatre with two very talented actor/comedians shifting easily between each of their three characters. They are so successful that when they take their bow at the end of the performance, you are left waiting for the other ‘actors’ to join them on stage.”

Watch Plus One herehttps://vimeo.com/163211621

 

Plus One 2

REVIEWS & ARTICLES

SQUIRREL COMEDY REVIEW by Elyce Phillips.

When you hear that the incredibly talented Mike McLeish and Fiona Harris are teaming up for a show, you have high expectations. Plus One not only meets those expectations, but surpasses them. The show manages to sum up decades of friendship, in a single hour, in a way that is funny, moving and thoroughly entertaining.

Plus One follows the relationships of three men and three women, all played by McLeish and Harris, who have been friends since uni. The show begins on New Year’s Eve in 1996, where the band The Nervous Wrecks is playing at a party. Band members Joe, Rick, Seamus are joined by their partners and hangers-on Nikki, Veronica and Delta as they ring in the New Year. After spending a little time with these characters and seeing how their friendships work, we then fast forward several years to find things have changed, and not all for the better.

McLeish and Harris have put together a really special show here. Plus One is hilarious, yes, but it is also poignant. They capture the nature of change in relationships with amazing precision. Over the course of the hour, you really come to care for many of the characters, even though their desires are often conflicting. There’s a lot of skill in the production, too. McLeish and Harris deftly switch between their characters without missing a beat. The characters are so well-rounded that you are never left wondering who it is on stage. Their use of music to indicate the change of era is a really neat touch. Nothing transports you back to 1996 like hearing a bit of Shaggy. And the original music is fantastic. McLeish’s closing number is an absolute showstopper – worth the price of the ticket alone. Plus One is a brilliantly funny production with a lot of heart. If you like your comedy to be a little tear-jerking as well, you really can’t miss this one.

AUSSIE THEATRE REVIEW by Anne-Marie Peard

… Plus One had me at Hootie & The Blowfish and a navy-blue sleeveless floral wrap top with a subtle frill. Hilariously nostalgic and as zeitgeist capturing as a Facebook Instagram album of mock-polaroids of zeitgeists, its interwoven story of old uni friends in their late 30s, original music and terrific performances makes it like The Big Chill for our generation, but much funnier – and no one lost their junk at war.

Mike McLeish and Fiona Harris
Mike McLeish and Fiona Harris

Fiona Harris (Skithouse, The Librarians, The Circle etc) and Mike McLeish (Keating, Shane Warne: the Musical etc) play six friends who met at uni in the 90s. This was a time when university still meant being in a nearly-popular band, share houses, unrequited love, plenty of sex, and drinking ’til you spewed.

Fast forward to now. There’s a mummy blog, rewarding husbands with TV box sets, smart phone addiction, unrequited love, occasional sex, and vegan or goats cheese hors d’oeuvres at an installation opening. And as one friend wants to celebrate their bonds in art and a song (which deserves its own category at the ARIAs), others wonder if there’s anything left to drink to.

As Harris and McLeish (yes, they are real-life spouses) morph between characters, it’s easy to forget that there can’t be a scene with all six, but smart complex writing and tight direction ensure that there’s no disappointment. Melding the observation of stand up, the speed-joke of sketch and the satisfying arc of story, each character is instantly recognisable and if there isn’t one who’s a bit too close for comfort, you’ll recognise your parents or your adult children.

… Plus One is a brilliant excuse to get together with some of your old friends, especially if you’ve only seen them on Facebook in the last few years. It left me snorting-out-loud and looking forward to the next round of nostalgia fashion: 90s floral.

More of Anne-Marie’s writing is at sometimesmelbourne.blogspot.com
 
RHUM REVIEW

Mike McLeish and Fiona Harris take three characters each, and we see them move from the height of their 90’s musical success to a world of Facebook, mummy blogs and Wii Fit. It’s fantastic character-based humour, deftly delivered by a husband-and-wife team who have done the whole ‘from professional success to raising a family’ thing themselves. And they know you’ve gone through a lot of this too, so they cut the bullshit and get straight to making you laugh about it. You can’t share the jokes: the comedy is all in the characters and the way they treat each other, and it’s consistently hilarious.

The pair handle their roles well, wielding accents and rapid-fire costume changes to good effect, and while it’s a bit confusing at the start you’ll pick it up fairly quickly. They’re versatile performers, the script is tight and fast-paced and the space is used well. Mostly I just loved how low-key it all is, and the venue is small and cosy enough to know that everybody else loved it too. Don’t let the show’s lack of scope or ambition put you off – these are two established comics performing material they love, and it’s an absolute joy to watch.

Chuckle Factor: 4.5 / 5

EXTRA REVIEWS:

http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/comedy/plus-one-20120408-1wjlu.html

http://aussietheatre.com.au/reviews/micf-plus-one/

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/special-reports/review-mike-mcleish-and-fiona-harris-in-plus-one/story-fncv4qxa-1226317898353

PRESS

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/comedy/plus-one-suits-a-company-of-two-20120326-1vul2.html

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/the-mirth-of-going-from-a-pm-to-a-plus-one/story-e6frg8n6-1226309607736

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/ipad/life-is-a-cabaret-for-these-two/story-fn6bn9st-1226302084977

 

← Back to Fiona & Mike

INT. JOE & NIKKI LOUNGEROOM    MORNING

LIGHTS UP ON JOE on the couch opening an envelope

Under this we hear:

BLISS V/O
Dear Joe and Nikki. You are invited to a Visual Art Installation by Bliss
Hatfield entitled ‘Amity – an ode to camaraderie, mutual attachments and harmony’.
Saturday 24th November, 2012 at 7pm. Please note, this is a meat, fish, dairy,
gluten, wheat, plastic and profanity-free event.

JOE
Nik? Nikki?

NIKKI (OFFSTAGE)
Yeah?

JOE
What is this thing from Bliss? I don’t know what I’m looking at.

NIKKI walks onstage from stage left in her dressing gown, sunglasses on her head.

NIKKI
It’s an invitation, Joe.

She looks offstage and shouts.

NIKKI
Alex! Take off the raincoat and put some undies on! Christ,
Joe, your son looks like a midget chippendale.

NIKKI walks off stage left.

JOE smiles and winks at Alex.

JOE
Good on you, mate. (Shouts to Nikki again) It says here it’s a
Visual Art installation? What happened to ear candling.

NIKKI walks back on with a schoolbag and hands it to JOE.

NIKKI
Oh no, that was ages ago. She’s done thought field
therapy and kinesiology since then.

NIKKI walks off stage right and brings back another schoolbag and starts to pack it.

JOE
Oh yeah, you wrote a blob about that, yeah?

NIKKI
A what?

JOE
You wrote a blob about kinesiology…

NIKKI
Mmhmm.

JOE pulls a broccoli out from one of the bags.

JOE
Alex, I said put an apple in your bag. Does that
look like an apple?

NIKKI
Anyway, this is an exhibition of her new
artwork or something.

JOE
Nup.

JOE exits stage left.

NIKKI
Whaddya mean, “nup”?

JOE
I’m not going. Last time she did something arty she
convinced me to be her human canvas. I was scrubbing
gold paint off my ballsack for a month.

NIKKI looks through her handbag.

NIKKI
Well, I spoke to Bliss yesterday and she said
it’s really important to her that we go.

JOE
Important like when she demanded we all come for
dinner last year because she had really important
news and you remember what the news was, Nik? It was
that she’d become a Buddhist. And I missed the Leonard
Cohen gig for that, so now I kind of hate Buddhists,
and that would make Leonard really sad.
Maddy, school shoes on now please!

NIKKI
Joe, it’s like a dedication to her years of friendship – with us.
We have to go. Where are my sunglasses?

JOE
Are Rick and Veronica going?

NIKKI
Oh come on, whenever you and Rick see each other it’s fine.

JOE
Yeah, like at Seamus’s birthday when he told me I took
away his one shot at happiness when I left the band?

NIKKI
Rick was stoned.

NIKKI glances down at something at her feet, jumps in the air and screams.

NIKKI
AAAahhhh! Maddy, could you please put the lizard back in its cage!

JOE
Maddy, Lizzy lives in her cage or she dies in the bin!

NIKKI turns to JOE to calm him down.

NIKKI
Alright.

She moves in close and plays up to him.

NIKKI
I just think it’s a shame, that’s all, because mum’s
already said she’ll have both the kids for a sleepover, which means…

JOE
We can drink.

NIKKI
Hello.

JOE
Hello!

JOE
Does that mean you’ll get drunk and do some inappropriate
dancing with me in front of everyone?

He imitates her bum roll move.

NIKKI
I don’t do that! Where the fuck are my sunglasses?

JOE takes them off her head and hands them to her, as he
looks past Nikki and talks to Maddy.

JOE
No Maddy, she said, “Where’s the duck…that wears sunglasses?”

NIKKI
If you come with me I’ll buy you the box set of Gilmore Girls.

JOE turns around and talks to Alex.

JOE
See, Alex, your mum thinks she’s funny but the Gilmore Girls
is actually an excellent show with great characters and
surprisingly snappy dialogue.

NIKKI is shaking her head at Alex, disagreeing.

NIKKI
Yes dear.

JOE talks to Alex again.

JOE
There’s nothing wrong with Daddy liking the Gilmore Girls.

NIKKI indicates to Alex that there definitely is something wrong with it.

JOE turns around and catches her.

NIKKI
No dear.

She moves in to give him a kiss goodbye.

JOE
Oh, there’ll be no kiss.

NIKKI
Come on, kids!

NIKKI grabs the school bags and exits.

JOE
The dressing gown and runners look could really catch
on with the Preston mums.

NIKKI (OFFSTAGE)
Oh…DUCK it!

BLACKOUT

INT. RESTAURANT   NIGHT

Lights up on RICK and VERONICA sitting across from each other.

RICK
Sorry Veronica. It’s just that I already told Bliss I’d go.

VERONICA
Fine, Rick. I was going to take a girlfriend along and
have a fun night out but, whatever.

RICK
It’s just that Bliss is my friend and we were in the band together…

VERONICA
Oh, Jesus, Rick! Not the bloody Nervous Rex again!
Do want me start snoring in a George Calombaris restuarant?

RICK
God, no.

VERONICA
I’m just surprised someone like you would want to
go to any sort of art exhibition.

RICK
Installation.

VERONICA’S head whips around and she glares at her husband.

VERONICA
Excuse me?

She continues to stare him down until the waiter comes over and RICK looks away.

RICK
Hi, can I please have the porterhou…

VERONICA
He’ll have the rabbit and I’ll have the salmon thank you.

RICK
And some wedges….

VERONICA
And the garden salad as a side. And another Merlot please?

RICK
Two please…

VERONICA
You’re driving.

RICK
Just water’s fine for me thanks.

PAUSE

VERONICA
If you do come to Delta’s thing I hope you’ll be able to
control yourself and not get disgustingly drunk and bring
up all that ridiculous band stuff with Joe…

RICK
I won’t.

VERONICA
…I was so embarrassed at Seamus’s birthday last year.

RICK
I promise.

Long awkward silence.

VERONICA leans down and pulls a list out.

VERONICA
I’ve made your list for this week. You didn’t do
the weeding or the gutters last week so they’re still on there.

RICK
Ok. Oh hey, I can pick up India from school on
Wednesday and Friday this week.

VERONICA
Why don’t you just let Catherine do what she’s paid for?
She’s our nanny. Let her nanny.

RICK
I just thought it might be a nice surprise for India if I turned up…

VERONICA
Rick. Catherine’s job, not yours. OK?

RICK
OK.

Another long awkward silence.

VERONICA sighs.

VERONICA
I suppose I should try and enjoy my night out.

She raises her glass to drink out of it then remembers something.

VERONICA
Oh, and happy birthday.

RICK
Thanks.

BLACKOUT

INT. ART STUDIO  DAY

Lights up on BLISS moving around the stage performing her smudging ritual dance.

She finishes in a flourish and sighs happily.

BLISS
The Smudging ritual is so cleansing. And this Navajo flute music
that I downloaded from landrape.org has really helped expel the
negativity left in here from my last project – “Unstitching The Demigoddess”.
That was an exhibition that externalized the inner torment I felt
once I realized that I’d spent every last cent of my nana’s inheritance.
It also left remnants of pain for a lot of other people.

JOE walks on and stands stage left.

BLISS
Joe, for one.

JOE
You know the only thing that gets gold paint off your ballsack?
Turps and steel wool.

BLISS
But now it’s just six weeks until the opening of my very
first visual art installation!

JOE
So the idea of Bliss “installing” anything is absolutely terrifying.

BLISS
When I was at the Rainbow Serpent Festival this year I had
an epiphany: friendship is all that matters. And I realised
that I had to create something truly special to celebrate my
years of friendship with my nearest and dearest.

JOE
So Bliss calls me up out of the blue…

BLISS
The first person I called was Joe…

JOE
…we hadn’t spoken for months.

BLISS
It was like we’d chatted yesterday.

JOE
And suddenly she’s saying…

BLISS
I want to put the band back together…

JOE
The Nervous Rex??

BLISS
The Nervous Rex.

JOE
She wants us to do some sort of…

BLISS
Reunion gig as part of my/her installation.

JOE
Is she mental?!

BLISS
He was so excited.

JOE
And then she says…

BLISS
I’ve got some lyrics that I’ve written…

JOE
Oh no.

BLISS
…and it’d be amazing if the band could set them to music for the event…

JOE
No no no no no.

BLISS
And Seamus and Rick have already said yes to playing, so..

JOE
Wh.. Th… I…?!

BLISS
Joe was so excited he could hardly speak. All he could say was…

JOE
Right.

BLISS
And that was that.

JOE
I haven’t picked up my guitar in years.

JOE exits stage left.

BLISS
Anyway, I should get started.

BLISS looks around for what to do first and has no idea.

BLISS
Actually I should really meditate for an hour or so first.

LIGHTS DOWN.

End Of Excerpt