A great dive into a 'what if' question, but one I wished was a little more developed and less rushed.
My Soulmate’s Husband’s Soulmate is a play part of the NST’s ‘Make It So’ festival that is running throughout February and aims to give a spotlight to creatives from the Southampton and surrounding Hampshire area so new, upcoming productions can be performed. This show was an interesting exploration into what life would be like if suddenly there was a discovery where you were pulled towards your own soulmate and the person you were meant to be with. Would you choose them over a life created with your husband?
The play, written by Gina Thorley, who also takes a primary role as Erin, has been found by her soulmate Johan (Nick Edgeworth) and feels the physical pull towards him but must choose what to do and how she is to separate from her husband of four years, Adrian (Ryan Harris). Ultimately they decide to unite Adrian with his soulmate so that Erin can move on with Johan without feeling the guilt of leaving her husband behind. The structure of the story works quite well and we are treated to a typical journey narrative that is complicated by the characters at the centre and between that are spliced scenes of testimonials about ‘soul-day’ and the discovery of your soulmate.
There were some incredibly strong performances throughout the show from the entire cast, especially between the characters of Erin, Adrian and Johan, but at times the dialogue and writing of the scenes felt a little forced and unrealistic. This was highlighted by the use of swear words in the dialogue that sometimes felt as though it flowed within the conversation, but other times stuck out as if it were placed there just to have a swear word. For the most part, the structuring of the dialogue was nice to watch; it felt (mostly) realistic and was easy to follow with humour and grief coming through at the right moments. This was carried by the chemistry between the actors that came across as if we were watching a real couple dealing with a real issue, not a work of fiction.
The realism within the show worked to draw the audience in to the narrative, particularly Adrian’s storyline. His anger and confusion was almost refreshing and countered the fairytale feeling between Johan and Erin as a result of discovering each other, and the cynicism he felt towards the entire soulmate system offered a different viewpoint that was drastically removed from the discourse within the play. He was a good character to follow and structure the play around because he felt relatable, as if he was someone we knew. In a world where you are pulled, literally, towards your soulmate we needed someone to call out how bizarre this was and to actually be angry about slowly losing his wife to another man just because of a pull.
Despite this, there were elements of the mood created throughout the show that felt confused and messy. The comedic dance break where Johan and Erin’s blossoming relationship was satirised was hilarious and worked to really lighten the mood on stage, as well as the brief comedic moments that were glossed over. However this scene was one in isolation and it would have been really nice to seen more of this and integrate comedic scenes between the more serious ones, instead of maintaining a monotonous atmosphere for the majority of the show.
The play was short which contributed to the feeling of the rushed ending, where Adrian discovers Stef (Emily Cutler), his soulmate, who is terminally ill. It would have been interesting to see more about Adrian and Stef’s relationship and the intricacies of what is going to happen between them and both Erin and Johan. Instead we gloss over an argument between the otherwise happy couple, Erin and Johan, and move very quickly to a happy, albeit bittersweet, ending. Despite this, it does make you think about what a relationship is and what love can mean.
This show was definitely more about its content rather than the production values as there was incredibly minimal set, only a few chairs and a table used intermittently, which made it interesting but if the pace of the narrative was developed a little more it could have come across a little better. Although what we were given came across well, and the audience definitely enjoyed the show where there seemed to be something for everyone (aside from children). It isn’t incredibly exclusive in terms of who this appeals to, but this definitely isn’t a family show and is more something for adults because it isn’t high impact and high production value. The focus is on the content.
It was a really interesting concept and a great show, one that I would be excited to see developed into something longer and with a little more substance and depth. However, what we are treated to is enjoyable and definitely worth a watch if you are someone that enjoys a trip down the ‘what if’ rabbit hole.
The ‘Make It So’ festival runs until the 29th of February. More information can be found here.