Where You Go – Etcetera Theatre, London

Reviewer: Maryam Philpott

Writer: Millie Henson with Matthew Madanat and Harry Kenyon

Directors: Harry Kenyon and Matthew Madanat

A classic romance wrapped in domestic sci-fi, Millie Henson’s Where You Go, written with co-directors Matthew Madanat and Harry Kenyon, is an end-of-the-world drama about two people finally realising what they really have to lose. Taking place over an 18-month timeline, this enjoyable two-hander explores the conflict between creative and pragmatic personalities, the value of art and what really matters when an extinction event threatens. With little opportunity for redemption, Henson asks what life is worth and who is individually worthy of survival.

Finn and Aniyah are at breaking point in their relationship after five years; they used to write songs together but to pay the bills Aniyah started working as a nurse leaving Finn to continue his dream of being a musician. But reality is starting to bite and Finn’s contribution to the relationship feels minimal leading to an argument they spend the next 18 months trying to recover from, 18 months in which the world is threatened by an asteroid strike.

Henson manages well the comparison between the slow-burning destruction of a fraught relationship and the reflective external environment that adds a romcom time limit to the couple’s decision-making. What begins as a highly recognisable domestic drama with arguments about housework and uneven responsibilities slowly transforms into a more fundamental consideration of what keeps people together, the enduring nature of their shared connection and the importance of feeling known by someone else.

Where You Go creates these contrasting personalities and priorities for Finn and Aniyah that in several ways sets this above the raft of equivalent couple dramas that rely on an unconvincing “opposites attract” scenario to provide the fuel. But Henson is quite careful in creating substance for the central relationship and although these characters are quite different, it is still clear what drew them together in the first place and that the nub of that affection remains, convincing the audience that there is something worth spending 85 minutes exploring.

Performed by Grace Lyons and Jonty O’Callaghan, both actors find the shifts in tone and momentum as the play unfolds, particularly as audience sympathies begin to even out later in the story and the work only gets stronger as the play unfolds. Kenyon and Madanat rely on some overly long scene changes in a very realistic set that occasionally hamper the pace and perhaps a more abstract approach to the presentation would place this closer to something like Nick Payne’s Constellations than the bittersweet film romcom it’s aiming for.

The surrounding drama is preposterous, of course, with conversations punctuated by alarmist news bulletins and Prime Ministerial announcements, while the search for a solution to this international crisis results in a rather predictable concluding segment and a dramatic choice to make. Yet Henson brings all of this back to the couple, their fateful argument and the story of their relationship, giving this conclusion an emotional heft that feels very satisfying.

Runs until22 June 2024

The Reviews Hub Score

Satisfying sci-fi

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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