There’s Got To Be a Morning After:
A Review of Ride
by Tony Phillips
Chances are if two characters wake up in bed together naked with no idea of whom the other person is, you’re at 59E59 Theaters. That device has been used so many times on this complex’s three stages, there are times I’m convinced my regular attendance is only in hopes that the scenario might play out with any one of the venue’s hunky Latino ushers. No such luck the night I saw Ride, but what I did get was a two-hander in one nicely paced act from playwright Jane Bodie.
Bodie gives the man, played by rangy, Paul Bettany-ringer Jeremy Waters, home court advantage as the instant couple wakes up in his dingy apartment in North Fitzroy. The woman, played aptly by Melissa Chambers, points out this Melbourne suburb isn’t exactly on the right side of the tracks, but the play isn’t reflexive enough for her to also mention that set designer James Hunting did a bang up job with the ratty pad. The floating night table light is one lovely flourish and the whole set transforms not once but twice in the play’s Mr. Goodbar-ish finale.
The actors do their best with such an unlikely premise: a night before blackout turns into twelve hours the morning after, complete with toast and tea. Jane Fonda never had it so good. Chambers hops around on one high heel until she realizes it will make her walk of shame that much more conspicuous. Both actors’ accents are so authentic they left me wondering if they, like the play itself, were Aussie imports. Bodie’s script is blunt enough for these characters to voice what’s usually left unsaid. When Chambers can’t find other key elements of last night’s ensemble, she asks Waters for a shirt he won’t miss because he’s probably never going to see it again.
These strange bedfellows do a nice job of letting individual neediness bloom into intimacy while trying to bridge the well of loneliness big city living necessitates. And Waters gets one of the biggest laughs of the evening by cutting Chambers sexual forensics short with his rational for did they or didn’t they. “You’d be in a much better mood,” Waters quips, deciding they didn't. If, indeed, there’s got to be a morning after, this unlikely yet lively couple makes for quite good company.