CAMDEN FRINGE REVIEW: Swipe, Hen and Chickens Theatre

running until 21 August

Swipe - Camden FringeIn their debut performance, the New Match Collective presents an honest, straight-talking appraisal of the 2016 dating scene. From Tinder to OKCupid; from obsessing over which punctuation to use, to sending (or not sending) nudes; and from the thrill of a first date, to the utter desolation of heartbreak when it all ends – six women share the highs and lows of modern romance.

The performances are all engaging, with stand-outs from Lisa Ashby and Sarah MacKenzie, and we immediately warm to their frank and funny anecdotes of negotiating swiping, messaging and dating. There is no judgement here and very little moralising – the one argument drilled home is that, unarguably, women should be as free as men to use these services as they wish, without harassment or judgement. Otherwise it’s a balanced look at the topic, with reasonings pro- and anti-online dating, sharing intimate pictures, texting before he does, using an exclamation mark at the end of a text… It’s all material we have probably read or thought about before, so widespread is the phenomenon; but it’s presented in a straight-up, cogent, witty and engaging way.

There is a slightly odd moment when Laura-Jean Richardson, Alyssa Salter and Joanne Sealey transform into 1950s housewives (‘The Ghosts of Dating Past’) to offer a ‘simpler’ alternative to 2016’s overwhelming dating experience. It does raise a nice discussion – would the old-fashioned way be more satisfying and more simple than the modern mindset, in which a woman is told she can have it all but is then put under pressure to achieve it? It’s fun, but the slightly bizarre nature of the scene is a leap from the frank reality of the rest of the show and the script isn’t as sharply crafted in this episode as in the rest of the show.

Other than this diversion the show flows well, and overall it’s a vibrant exploration of millennials’ search for love. Snappy, enjoyable and with its finger on the pulse, it’s a strong debut from this promising company.

Swipe is playing as part of the Camden Fringe. Click here for more information.

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