Monsoon Season

Richard Thieriot and Therese Plaehn star in All For One Theater’s production of Lizzie Vieh’s Monsoon Season at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. Original photo by Maria Baranova.
When you live in the desert, can the grass be greener on the other side of the fence?

By Andrew Andrews

Julia (Therese Plaehn) is suffering a mid-life crisis, so she’s kicked her husband Danny (Richard Thieriot) out of the house in hopes of reinventing herself.

Danny’s moved into a motel-style apartment across the parking lot from Peaches strip club, where he’s spiraling downward trying to make sense of life without the wife he loves and the young daughter he can barely lay eyes on.

All For One Theater specializes in solo performances, so at first glance, Monsoon Season seems to break the mold, since it stars two actors instead of only one. But the first half of this tale is told entirely from Danny’s perspective, before a silent exchange between the partners transforms the set from Danny’s yet-unpacked apartment to Julia’s unkempt living room. At that point the tables are turned, and we watch the story unfold from the antagonist’s perspective, until the final scenes when the characters appear together.

We first heard about Monsoon Season from a publicist who caught it at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and we knew we had to see it as soon as it arrived here in New York.

On a beautiful disaster of a set, Danny makes us cringe as we watch the poor man losing his sanity before our very eyes. Then we discover that Julia isn’t much better off herself, trying desperately to restore her youth through amphetamines, bar-hopping and a YouTube channel sharing make-up tips that she learned long ago in beauty school.

It’s been said that divorce is the most trouble one person can inflict upon another as well as on themselves, and the tense, finely-crafted script presents a realistic portrayal of the emotional turmoil that each party experiences.

Although there’s a certain disconnect to watching a solo performer pretend to interact with others who aren’t physically present, I believe the technique helped me “get in the head” of each character and share the moment as though the actors and I were one and the same.

With sound and lighting contributing to the ominous set as much as the scenery and direction, Monsoon Season is basically a one-person play followed by another one-person play followed by what the fffffeather was that!?

5

Andrew Andrews attended Monsoon Season at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in New York on Saturday, October 26, 2019 @ 8:00pm to write this review.

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