THE SMALLEST HOUR has been written and is performed by Phil Spencer and Susie Youssef. The play sees them play two characters, Chris and Shelly, as  they negotiate a special night in the city. 

Chris and Shelly haven’t seen each other since high school. Now both 30, neither of them is leading the life they thought that they would have. Shelly’s a bit lost; having spent a decade floating down a path she no longer wants to follow. She’s in charge of the quiz at tonight’s Hens’ Party, but no amount of Pimm’s or penis-shaped cake is going to make this feeling of angst and disappointment disappear.

Chris likes to think of himself as an “entrepreneur” but he’s recently had to resort to some very self conscious stripping work just to make ends meet. Something that isn’t helping him  is that he has a Phil Collins song that he can’t get out of his head!

One fateful, alcohol-soaked evening, in a city very like Sydney (but definitely not Sydney) Shelly and Chris cross paths, and an unexpected second chance arises for them both. Rich in observant detail and warm humour tinged with melancholy, THE SMALLEST HOUR invites audiences to sit back, get cosy and let Sue and Phil weave a bit of magic as they conjure up a gentle romance set against an unlikely city backdrop.  

This show was an unusual show for the Stables Theatre to put on. as it is usually home to edgy, unsettling theatre. For a change it was refreshing just to sit back and watch a gentle, quirky romance unfold.

Both the actors were a delight; Phil Spencer as the rather dorky, awkward  Chris and Susie Youssef as the angst ridden Shelly. I loved their observations of the many city characters they came across.

Witty one liners were peppered through the play- ‘He thinks your dead. You’re not on Facebook.’.. ‘There is always a sale on at Katmandu’… ‘Hell hath  no fury like a bagless woman’ and many more.

The show was well plotted. Chris’s striptease scene was understated and fun. The characters on the bus ride were all well drawn.  As well as plenty of humour, there were poignant scenes, especially one including bus passenger Fred.

A very appealing aspect of the play was  the way that you could tell that Chris and Shelly liked each other from the beginning but they kept on missing out on really connecting till the poignant ending.   

The show has  been  very well directed by Scarlett McGlynn.  Her note for the program is a great guide to what you can expect.

“This play sees Phil and Susie combine their skills to craft a story of two individuals as they move through the city at night. A city at once familiar and new. Join them as they travel down back alleys and up carpeted stairwells into the forgotten corridors of a city much like our own. Spend an evening nestled alongside these people as they negotiate their own longing and search for that special connection that we all ultimately want but seldom attain.”

Tyler Hawkins set and costume design was very effective. The set was a platform set with some seating in the middle. There were coloured thin vertical lights which changed colour against the walls. Both Phil and Susie were dressed casually though Susie’s gold shoes were a stand out. Steve Francis‘ soundscape came into play late in the piece with some sweet music.

This is a journey well worth taking. The hour might be small but Susie and Phil pack a lot of warmth and entertainment into it. Recommended, THE SMALLEST HOUR is playing the Stables Theatre, 10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross until 15 December 2018.