The Skype Show is a promising new play about a couple (who are also bandmates) dealing with their relationship after one of them is forced to leave the country due to visa issues.
Based on real events, and written and acted by the people who went through those events, the play has an authenticity and groundedness that makes it easy to care about what happens.
Co-lead Jody, as the American woman who wants nothing more than for her boyfriend to return to their once-shared apartment, is the antithesis of the much criticized “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” that often pops up in angsty romcoms. Aptly portrayed by actress/writer Jody Christopherson, she lives for herself, not her boyfriend, and is at once assertive yet vulnerable. When she sings, she transforms right before your eyes, acquiring a soulful kind of boldness. It’s like seeing a fish released into water.
The foreign boyfriend who must stay in abroad until he obtains the proper visa, Michael (played by Michael De Roos) is also startlingly fresh and interesting. Instead of the typical ironic hipster musician, we have an energetic and sunny young man whose optimism radiates from the Skype window through which we see him for most of the show. His giggling winsomeness also hints at the alarming thought that maybe he would be happy wherever he is, and would eventually no longer feel the need to return to Jody.
The Skype Show would benefit from some rigorous workshopping. The momentum builds and drops repeatedly, and half-way through, I found myself stirring in my seat wishing for the story to escalate. Some of the plot devices also took me out of the play, such as why Jody had to rely on Michael to read the visa application form to her over Skype, when she could have pulled up a copy online herself. It felt like a contrivance invented simply to create friction at the expense of logic. The comic relief of Unka Dave, a cheesy guitar teacher, was a nice addition, but dragged on at times, and stole a bit too much from the main story. And while the leads were terrific and believable, the play felt under directed; important beats blurred into the next moment, and the actors were not used efficiently to create a dramatic arc.
Having likeable, interesting leads is probably the most important and elusive ingredient to a successful romcom, and The Skype Show has that in spades. The show definitely has legs and I have no doubt it will continue to charm audiences in the future.