Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Speed of Dating - Trof, Manchester

The Speed of Dating
Writer: Sarah Evans
Reviewer: David Leith

Doughnuts, dildos and dating. Three things I don’t usually associate with a quiet Monday evening at the theatre, but in Sarah Evans new one woman show, ‘The Speed of Dating’ no subject is approached with caution. We meet Alice played, by Sarah Emmott, who explores a vibrant account of life as a single bisexual woman, desperate to find Mr (or Mrs) Right.

Upon arrival at Trof’s intimate upstairs space we are greeted with love notes addressed “To you...” Inside a cheesy chat up line unfolds. Mine addressed; “I want to be the lining in your pants”; these chat up lines are a consistent theme throughout the piece. Evans highlights those embarrassing dating moments that have encountered many singletons. We meet someone new, we’re nervous and before we know it were talking about “lesbian cats” or “a love for lift music” in a bizarre attempt to win their affections.

Playing multiple characters throughout, Emmot delivers a compelling performance as the unlucky in love Alice, introducing us to the many colourful individuals she meets in her quest for love. Including Muriel, the American dating therapist whose advice to “attempt to be someone else” leads to a hilarious compilation of monologues where the protagonist adopts a number of quirky personas in order to get a date.

Emmott delivers comedic anecdotes and some classic one liners that leave the audience laughing hysterically. Watching Emmott simulate sex whilst crying frantically; “thank you for having sex with me!” was definitely a moment to eradicate those Monday blues. Taking the audience from these moments of laugh out loud hilarity, the piece slowly transcends to moments of subtle poignancy. The emotional monologue about unconditional love is worth a special mention. Emmot’s effortless transition from the perverse and comedic to the sensitive draws attention to her skills as a comedian as well as a sensitive actor and storyteller.

A diverse soundtrack is used throughout the piece which is a winning intervention. With tracks such as D.reams ‘Things can only get better’ and Peaches ‘F**k the Pain Away’ amongst some of the literal musical accompaniments to the narrative. This paired with Trof’s intimate setting makes Emmott’s spontaneous delivery fresh and interactive.

At times however the piece did feel gratuitously crude, which is unnecessary as the overall content is observant and witty. One feels there should have been more faith placed in the varied and intelligent dialogue, allowing it to hold its own rather than disguising it amongst the X-rated.

In an audience made up mostly of women, one couldn’t help thinking at first that ‘The Speed of Dating’ was preaching to the converted. However this is not the case. The pieces sharp delivery, great pace and conviction, paired with classic one liners and sharp comic timing from Emmott, make this show a fun and entertaining piece of theatre, performed by new local talent catering to men and women alike. With a few friends and a beer in hand ‘The Speed of Dating’ is definitely worth a see on a cold wet Monday.

Runs at Trof for the next three mondays
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