Counter, performed at the Chelsea Theatre, is a unique production in which the characters engage with the audience. Written and directed by Maggie Razavi, Counter stars actors Maia Prest (Her) and Jon Gutierrez (Him). 

CREDIT: Charlotte O’Donnell

The play opens with Gutierrez drinking alone, clearly agitated. Prest eventually runs in; she was meant to meet him at the bar half an hour earlier. Through their conversation, we discover Gutierrez has proposed to Prest after ten years of dating, only for them to take a three-week break for Prest to think about her answer. In addition to talking to each other, Gutierrez and Prest take turns addressing the audience through monologues explaining their feelings towards each other and their relationship. 

Counter is a very realistic and relatable play. It shows how nothing in a relationship is black and white and how much work needs to go into one to make it successful. I liked how small the set was; it prevented any distractions from the actors’ performances. Gutierrez gave an absolutely heart-wrenching performance as the partner who was more invested in the relationship. He makes you feel his frustration yet unconditional love for her. Prest, while not quite losing control over her emotions like Gutierrez, makes you sympathize with her as she tries to make the decision that will alter her life. She loves Gutierrez but wants to be sure she is doing herself justice. 

Counter was very slow at the beginning. I suppose the actors were trying to make the awkward-break-up-conversation realistic, but they paused in between lines so much, I found myself drifting off or mentally urging them to speak more quickly. The actors did not make many clear invitations for the audience to engage. I wish we had more of a say on whether she should tell him she cheated etc. The show has several surprising revelations and plot twists, making it very entertaining in the last couple of monologues. However, this wasn’t until the end, and there wasn’t enough time for the audience to weigh out the options after knowing all of the details. Which made for an abrupt ending. Prest asked the audience to vote by a show of hands whether she should marry Gutierrez or not. Despite the majority of the audience voting for her to leave him, she very confusingly decided to marry him.

Counter is a very interesting concept, but the execution needs improvement. I hope they continue to work on it, and I look forward to seeing how it develops! Counter has a performance at The Thin White Duke on the 14th and 21st of July, and a performance at The Chelsea Theatre on the 16th July. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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