A review by Pauline Flannery for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

London Festival Fringe 2011

 

A Date to Remember

 

 

Director: Matthew Parker


Phoenix Artists Club


4 - 24 July 2011

 

A Date To Remember is interactive theatre about speed-dating. Guided by Love Attack’s organiser Susie, we get the characters’ lives, motivations and hopes. The private face is often different to the public profile……

Lydia is looking for that special someone who will move to Australia. Eyes fixed on Ricardo’s swarthy looks, she goes against her biological, ticking clock and opts for a more basic instinct. Ricardo likes lips, and lips, and lips; and serenades girls, girls, girls. Tilly, into gravity and tomato sauce, gets horsey with Jefferson who does a very passable impersonation of a dialek and makes a mean lasagne. Then there’s Michaela, peacock, bouffant and editor of Allure Magazine, ‘I suck the smell of success’, and Kimbaly, (think A Chorus Line), who, while at opposite ends of feminine cool, end up working together. Whilst Nigel, a social outcast into Star Trek and numbers, walks off with the cup-cake, and into the nearest cinema….

So with scorecard options Yes, Hmmm, No, Comments we’re off!......

Yes: to the concept and idea. Matthew Parker’s direction keeps the action fluid as we go through the introduction, Susie’s Choice and the after party. The action is spontaneous. So much so that it was hard to spot who was part of the production and who was not in the first half. This element of randomness adds a certain frisson. I was interested in Wes, all tufted haircut, who transports bull sperm. Sadly, he didn’t make it to Susie’s Choice. 

Hmmm: the first section is more audience interactive and this works better than the more conventional second half after-party. The scenes between Ricardo and Lydia at a dance class and the interview between Susie and Kimbaly occur outside the created world of speed-dating and seem at odds with the overall structure. Though the latter did give us a lexical treat: ‘loping’ a mix of lunch and shopping. And Lydia( Sasha Delaney) does some fancy work in the spotlight with a blue umbrella.

Yes: to Susie’s choice. The use of prompt questions such as what colour would you be or the most important moment of my life, allowed for juxtaposed lines/tempo, amplified through a microphone, which was funny. Similarly, the sound effect of twittering birds when held to Kimbaly’s head, is also fun. I could have had more moments like these.

No: to Susie’s overall attitude. ‘Shit’ or ‘you’re a bit thick’ are not well-judged comments to paying customers no matter how outré they appear. She has little time for them and is openly disparaging towards them. So it begs the question why would they bother to continue?

Yes: to Jeremiah O’Connor as Nigel. This is the most interesting character with real light and shade. O’Connor convinces as the gauche, awkward Nigel, complete with rounded-glasses, anorak and clenched gestures. His move towards Kimbaly is dramatically satisfying and a score for the underdog. Similarly, Kimbaly(Naomi Todd) and Michaela(Charlotte Tallack) move beyond the caricature. Indeed it’s all in the eyes. Kimbaly can’t take hers from Nigel as he fixes her phone and Michaela can’t avert hers quick enough. Between them they provide moments that are toe-curlingly real.

Yes: to the choreography. Here the more stylised movements work with the more exaggerated character elements. To the music of ‘Love is a Battlefield’ by Pat Benetar and Bacharach and David’s ‘What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love’, we see the characters’ frustrations and attractions, giving a more complex snapshot of each. And Yes: to a well-chosen soundscore of Le Roux’s ‘In for the Kill’, ‘Sweet Dreams’ and Beyonce’s ‘Single Lady’  which add a cheeky counterpoint to the evening’s proceedings.

Comments: more hits than misses…….

 

 
Phoenix Artists Club
Phoenix Street, London WC2
Monday - Thursday 8pm, Saturdays 6.30pm
Tickets: £12 full £10 concessions
Book Online: http://www.wegottickets.com
Box Office: 07794112989

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