Presented by Putney Theatre Company at Putney Arts Theatre, “Love In The Time of Tinder” is a collection of original short plays exploring, as the name would suggest, the dating game in the twenty-tens. Speed dating, tinder dates, singles parties, potential partners matched to you by a computer algorithm, even a glimpse into possible dating of the future are all featured here; some funny, some touching.
This reviewer was coming to this with a lot of firsthand experience. Dates in 3 minutes like a series of interviews, swiping right and left, traffic light parties, yep I’ve pretty much tried them all. So coming at this as a casualty of the dating war, how accurately did these works portray this unique period in romantic history?
Overall, I enjoyed these flashes of commentary of modern love. I smirked in recognition at lots of the characters and situation (Two commuters waiting on a delayed Southern train rung particular painful bells, though as a side note Southern Rail doesn’t run trains to Waterloo!). There was a nicely broad spectrum of experiences in love, exploring themes such as sexual and gender fluidity and dating post post-divorce, as well as the young and the hopeful.
Set and lighting wise it was pretty minimal; a mainly black stage with 3 boxes of primary colours painted on (though I never really understood what they represented), basic lighting, tables, chairs, and a couple of overlarge iPhone screens where characters could pop up to voice their online profile. While I appreciate that set needed to be moved quickly and simply between plays so as not to disrupt the flow, a bit more in the way of staging would have helped to set the scenes more quickly for the audience. Even some simple signs to indicate location would have saved the audience spending half the play trying to work out where we were.
I would like to give you a bit more of a review of the performances of the actors, but unfortunately the programme does not list characters, or have photographs of the actors next to their biogs, so despite my best Sherlock Holmes impression, I couldn’t identify which actors were playing what role. I’m not sure if that was deliberate, so the work was the thing rather than the people acting in the work, but my recommendation for the future is an audience does like to know who is playing the character, so for those people and the poor reviewers, can I ask that programmes give at least some clue as to what actor is playing which part!
But all in all, it was an enjoyable evening from Putney Theatre with some lovely performances and interesting original writing on display.
15 MINUTES – Craig Bates
A nicely paced piece about 2 people meeting on a speed date. Have dating apps and compatibility percentages taken over genuine human connection?
This was a nice piece, and though the two main protagonists were probably a LOT more honest with each other than they would normally be! However, the audience followed and engaged with the peaks and troughs of their 15 minute relationship and the actors played the parts well, though sometimes the words were a little quick and garbled so we missed some of the dialogue. Some of the pregnant pauses did not go on for long enough, they could have done with being a little more prolonged to really highlight the awkwardness of the characters.
IT'S COMPLICATED – Ben Clare
When you are getting over a relationship break up, how soon should you dive into the world of dating by app?
We’ve all been there; well-meaning friends who are tired of seeing you moping over your ex push you into trying online dating, maybe before you are ready. This was a light-hearted look at the dating app culture, and I could definitely relate to the agonies of sending the right witty but not over familiar message. The aforesaid oversize iPhones portraying some of the more familiar characters from the Tinder world (The I like going out and staying in” is an all time favourite) was also a nice touch.
PARTY POOPERS – Gerald Cole
Two recent divorcees are set up by friends at a house party, but are coming to their new found freedom from very different angles; one is very lost and rather bewildered, while the other is embracing their freedom and reveling in the ability of being an individual rather than one of a two.
This had a little more grit to it than the previous two, and while there were touches of humour, this was more a piece about finding yourself (or not) when long term relationships breakdown. The action was centred on just 2 characters for the whole of the piece, a focus that can be hard to carry, but the actors managed this well and with apparent ease.
A HUMAN HEART – Zoe Thomas Webb
A couple are being tested on their relationship, but the reason for that is something that keeps the audience guessing right to the very end. A touch of sci-fi enters the mix with this, and its a touching and emotional journey through this couple’s flawed but ultimately fulfilling relationship. I thought this very well written with a great, unexpected twist at the end.
DELAYED – Kirsty Harrison
This was my favourite of the plays, but that is probably because I am a hopeless romantic! Two beleaguered commuters meet regularly on the platform waiting for an always late running train. Both are so distracted by their relationships in the virtual world, they fail to see what is right in front of them while waiting for the 8.57 to Waterloo.
Very sweet with traces of a Richard Curtis rom com, and containing possibly one of my favourite lines ever; “my magically hypnotic vagina”. That’s one for the dating profile!
FACE TO FACE TIME – Grace Johnstone
A couple have a seemingly perfect relationship, but a revealed secret could make you think twice about everything you thought you knew, and rock something seemingly strong and steady.
This was a touching look about compromise in relationships and accepting people for what they are.The part of Dave was a particularly difficult one, but the actor did this well, with the right amount of appeal and humour. This play was one of the most moving of the evening, and you found yourself wishing you could catch up with the characters again when they had recovered from the fallout and settled into a life of living with it.
SEEING RED – Michael Staniforth
The final play in tonight’s presentation follows John, an old fashioned prude who unintentionally insults her work while at an art gallery attending a singles party, and is then drawn into a dialogue with her and another female artist on art, love and life.
The contrast between the prudish John and enlightened artists provides a narrative on the bridge between the old ways and the new. This one of all would have benefitted the most from additional set so we could see the artwork that was discussed quite a lot throughout the play; though some of it might have been a bit braver than the actors were prepared for! Nicely acted, but it was a little forgettable, the relationship set up between the three characters could have been explored much further and in a much more subtle way. However, maybe we were a little hindered in that respect by the time constraint of a short play.