53Two, Manchester; Wednesday 27th February, 2019
- a variety of summer squash that is shaped like a cucumber and that has a smooth, dark-green skin.
- the plant bearing this fruit.
- a partner in a queer-platonic relationship.
Jamie (Alaister Michael) needs to talk, or more precisely he wants his girlfriend Katie (Elaine McNicol) to talk – he desperately wants to know what she’s feeling and he appears to have spared no expense in order to find out.
On the auspicious occasion of their third anniversary, a local hotel room has been booked, a bunch of flowers have been hastily dumped into a couple of spare hotel mugs, and a Mars bar has been declared as one of the evening’s planned highlights.
It’s little wonder then that Katie doesn’t have much time for it all.
Delivered as an hour-long dialogue between a bickering couple who look to have pushed their relationship as far as it will go, Zucchini is a new piece of writing that is the second output from the Theatre Unlocked stable at 53Two in Manchester.
The show’s opening scenes quickly begin to reveal a multitude of weaknesses in the unhappy couple’s failing relationship. Jamie is portrayed in an almost sinister light – this is a young man who seems intent on over-analysing every emotion experienced by the pair; and when he finds no emotion to over analyse he simply sets about creating one.
In contrast, Katie is portrayed in a far more pragmatic and rational light, making it clear that she’s fine – although admittedly preoccupied with a particularly busy period in her professional life. She struggles to give her partner the kind of reassurances that he seems to crave – but then it isn’t entirely clear what he’s trying to get at?
As a theatrical performance Zucchini suddenly takes off at around its midpoint when a stunning and wholly unexpected revelation changes everything for the forlorn duo and their faltering relationship.
What starts as a rather annoying and frivolous bout of he-said-she-said nonsense suddenly transforms into a far more urgent and interesting interaction, one which becomes the heart of this particular piece of theatre. The unexpected revelation is a big one, the impact is clearly huge, and, crucially, the outcome is suddenly very uncertain.
Zucchini is an fascinating examination of how relationships can fundamentally change over time in exactly the same way that the individuals themselves also change over time. Ultimately, the plot of Zucchini seems a tiny little bit far-fetched, in particular the manner in which the outcome seems to be arrived at in a relatively friction-less manner, but despite this it is an innovative and refreshing story idea that raises some intriguing questions about the changing nature of changing relationships.