“Between Us” is a one act play following the ups and downs of a single relationship. Created by Rachel Thorn & Alex Keen, it is as different from the cliched view of improv as you can imagine. Sad. Touching. Beautiful.
At the start of the show, the two performers ask us to describe an Alex or Rachel we know in real life, and this plants a seed for what follows. In this performance the suggestion led to Alex having a Greek father obsessed with Alexander The Great. In turn it was revealed that the father had died when Alex was just 9 years old, a subject that Alex had only ever discussed with Rachel and his therapist. In contrast, Rachel was still living at the family home as her mother’s multiple illnesses meant she couldn’t be left alone for too long.
Rachel’s mother became the central point of tension for the couple as their romantic relationship progressed. Rachel realised the gap between wanting to look after her mother and having to look after her, almost envious at times of Alex’s freedom in this regard. Alex enjoyed the mother’s company but found home life very restrictive in that environment, making everyone old before their time and infringing on the relationship he had with the woman he loved. And so we reached an impasse. Rachel couldn’t move in with Alex as that would mean abandoning her responsibilities. And Alex couldn’t move in with Rachel as he didn’t want to end up as another carer for the mother. And so we saw the couple fall apart due to circumstance, with neither side the villain but unable to find a way to live in love together.
This story was told in a realistic, natural way. Nothing felt forced or unexplained, a complaint I often have with theatre, TV and film. Instead, the things the characters said and did rang true. And that’s all down to the skill and honesty of Rachel Thorn & Alex Keen, who were showing something of themselves as they created the show. We just got to see how these two people reacted to the things life throws at us. I was reminded of the time spent looking after my ill father and how that affected other aspects of my life. It felt a little bit like my story too. And as everybody has some hard times, as everybody has relationships that just don’t work out, this felt like a story for us all.
Between Us can be seen at multiple venues across the Midlands and North of England.