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 here: https://vimeo.com/163211621
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.
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.
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
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