If you see that the relationship between you and your significant other is decaying, when is the moment to say goodbye? “Counter”, a play of two actors, doesn’t give a clear answer but rather explores one of the opportunities.
“Counter” – meet Him and Her, in a bar
Jon Gutierrez creates a role of a boyfriend of 10 years, who just recently proposed to his girlfriend. His character levitates between being a loving and caring guy who plans a “perfect” engagement and even consults Her friend to make sure it’s perfect – and then he’s also a slightly sarcastic heavy-drinker that is afraid to be fully open in front of his girlfriend. Gutierrez understood the role well and created a believable story behind a man who seemed to have everything in his life. I could see one of my exes in his creation, almost like in a mirror (that was slightly creepy though).
Maia Prest is Her, an aspiring young woman who comes from a problematic family and wishes to build her own life in a picture-perfect way. 10 years earlier she fell in love with a guy who could provide her with a ticket to a “middle-class dream life”, but now as she’s managed to grow and develop her own plans, she’s not so sure if she still wants that old, carefully chosen life. She’s been proposed to and that’s when she started to panic: should she stay or is it the time to say goodbye?
Monologues that open a discussion with the audience
As the play uncovers, we are experiencing multiple monologues, delivered by both Him and Her – but in their head only. It’s the typical romantic comedy situation (that I usually get seriously annoyed but here it had its reasons): him and her date, one or both of them lie and keep it hidden, eventually, it blows into their faces, they split up but then inevitably they reconcile, most likely on the bridge, in the rain. Ugh. Why people don’t to each other in a relationship, whyyyy?
The dialogues are written in such a way that with every line you can feel the tension between the personas – short questions, even shorter answers, until the moment of a big decision comes. That’s when Maia Prest addresses the audience and asks for their advice – should she stay or break up? The audience played along and provided quite some interesting alternatives. from “dump his ass” to “travel the world” and that’s generally when you could finally feel a little bit of humour breaking through the generally tense play.
My slight issue with the play was the movement – when actors moved from “dialogue” to “monologue” they had to get up from their seats and walk to the middle of the stage. It created these awkward quiet moments in the play that could be utilised better. The lights created a clear distinction between the two sections, so it would feel much more natural if the actors already started their monologues at the bar and smoothly move to the middle while already talking.
Also, the script has so much potential; I would love it to go deeper into the relationship’s details. Maybe expand the play and set one last scene in a couple’s therapist’s office? Maybe give a bit more background on Her personal growth and what it means? And was the scarf an intentional style change or was She hiding a hickey? (this I was really hoping to find out!)
An interactive play with huge potential
“Counter” is a creative stab into the relationship of two people who drifted apart. It delivers tons of questions and, with each performance, only one answer. I hope it changes and the audience directs Her character into a different answer every time! It’s a fresh, interactive play that will give you many ideas for a post-play discussion, maybe with your significant other too?
Directed by: Maggie N. Razavi
Cast: Maia Prest, Jon Gutierrez
24 June – 2 July 2022