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Two Twenty Somethings Decide Never To Be Stressed About Anything Ever Again. Ever

"fresh talent and frequent laughs"

Audrey review: Made with skill and without malice, Michael Costi's comedy offers a joyous send-up of first-world worries and Millennial foibles.

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Two Twenty Somethings Decide Never To Be Stressed About Anything Ever Again. Ever

Date: 14 May 2021

Every generation is an oxymoron.

Millennials. We’re the most chill generation and the most highly-strung. We’re practicing mindfulness and making home-made jams while also vibrating – sometimes literally – with the millions of stressors amplified to neurotic proportions through ubiquitous tech.

There’s student debt and unstable jobs, the prospect of apocalyptic global ecosystem collapse and those ads stalking us with the message we have chicken wing arms. We’re so woke our eye whites are showing with the fear of saying something wrong. We’re so self-aware our insecurity is crippling. At the same time, we move through the world with the most outrageously entitled obliviousness.

So why not … not stress?

That seems a good idea. The two white, privileged twenty-somethings in Michael Costi’s play, Two Twenty Somethings Decide Never To Be Stressed About Anything Ever Again. Ever, agree. It’s the only way to reclaim control over their lives and mental wellbeing. And, given they just fought over a bottle of lavender spray – literally grappling with it in the middle of their living room – it might be the only way to repair a relationship overcome by false slights, petty recriminations and outsized self-absorption.

On their journey towards becoming real, authentic, wholesome people, they recruit a ‘best friend’ (Elliott Mitchell), the one they’ve always imagined they’d have in their lives to drink kombucha with over a game of Balderdash. This hi-fiving, ‘good vibes only’ dude is as cringey as you’d imagine.

Of course, the ‘Zen’ lifestyle is just another western capitalist invention, and just another impossible standard to chase. Ironically, then, the pursuit of inner peace is a highly stressful journey, a cursed and delusional goal. Particularly if your method of obtaining it is to simply deny the existence of hardship. “We decided that his life was going to get better!” the girlfriend (Jasmin Simmons) says triumphantly of Stunzin, the Syrian Uber driver she’d had an “amazing conversation with.”

Directed with a light and puckish touch by Eve Beck, Costi’s play is an enjoyable send-up of the absurd wormholes our first-world worries take us down, an entertaining eye-roll of the vacuous ‘return to your roots’ missive, and a satire of the solipsistic self-care celebrated by those who care only for themselves. The characters reminded me of the posse of friends in the hidden gem TV dark comedy series Search Party – hilariously exaggerated versions of white urban millennials who are terrible people, and whose love for each other is impossible to separate from their fundamental narcissism.

If not overly ambitious or spun with high-minded craft, the script delivers treats in its character interactions, executed with top-notch tomfoolery by the cast.

Kieran McGrath’s blustering and aggrieved outbursts as the boyfriend regularly release that valve of easy laughter, both in his chicken suit and out of it. Aided by sound designer Alexander Lee-Rekers, Jasmin Simmons took us inside a wannabe ASMR influencer experience that tingled scalps and tickled sides. The whole production bubbles up with the absurd as the couples’ new ‘stress-free’ lifestyle careens into madness.

Regrettably, the light touch was betrayed by a heavy-handed, suddenly dramatic metaphor that closed out the play. It seemed like the story hadn’t quite nailed down its central conceit and, unable to find a way out of its tangle, staged a coup against its own tone.

The couples’ home is created on a beautiful set, warm-toned, flush with neat compartments and Nordic ‘just-so’ style. It’s a mocking contrast to the messy psyches of our protagonists. Being a dedicated consumer of wellness culture, it turns out, does not a calm mind make. Their derangement is mapped with an increasingly lurid wash of colours under Benjamin Brockman’s lighting.

Comedy of this kind – the one in which I, the caricatured demographic, am made absurd – really appeals to me. When it doesn’t make me want to end myself, I get such a joyous kick out of what a fantastically dumb, dumb, peabrain I can be. Two Twenty-Somethings is flush with this bathos, ridiculing without malice young adults launching their anxious, earnest lives.

Having been in the wings for over a year due to COVID, this 60-minute KXT show with Bite Productions is one of fresh talent and frequent laughs. See it, and take that friend who can’t stop talking hot yoga with you.

NB: This review was written from the production’s first public preview.

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