Meeting the right person and starting a new relationship is hard enough, but when you also have to do it in rhyming couplets while searching for the meaning of your life… in Woking – well, it’s that much more challenging.
In James Woolf‘s delightful new play Jo and Sam Find Themselves in Woking, that’s just what Phoebe Marshall and Kieran Dee as the titular couple do so spectacularly, bringing this fledgling millennial relationship to colourful life in Katherine Reilly‘s minimalist staging, full of fourth-wall busting audience asides, tongue-twisting repartee and drunk-acting belly laughs.
I was captivated by this refreshingly original romcom. And following a performance this weekend at London’s Hen & Chickens Theatre, I thoroughly enjoyed discussing it with writer James Woolf and director Katherine Reilly – who previously collaborated on one-woman show Empty in Angel (my Q&A for that one is here), which, in life-imitating-art fashion, also influences this latest offering – as well as stars Phoebe Marshall and Kieran Dee.
What are the challenges of writing in modern verse? And of making it sound totally natural in performance? Do millennials view existential angst differently to the rest of us? What’s the backstory to the play within the play? Where should we go when we all visit Woking? (Naturally, Prince Andrew’s Pizza Express does get a mention.) And what gives your life meaning?
Jo and Sam Find Themselves in Woking continues at London’s Hen & Chickens Theatre until 23 April 2022. After which, I’m really hoping the team will announce a well-deserved tour – and transfer for a much longer run in Woking!
Event photography by Ailar Hashemzadeh.