Bunker Theatre, London – until 7 July 2018
Have you ever been on a speed-dating night? I haven’t. So the idea of Kiss Chase – the second show from theatre company Second Circle, written and directed by Hannah Samuels – is an intriguing one, as it promises “a part-interactive, part-verbatim speed dating event” in the confines of the Bunker Theatre, with the bar staying open throughout.
We’re welcomed in warmly by co-host Ruth, serenaded with the rules of the evening by t’other Jim, and then let loose on a series of mini-dates as those with red stickers on their badges move around the room one seat at a time. And the activities to do on these dates are fun enough, wisely steering clear of any place where lines might end up getting crossed and a relief for me given the number of women in the room and my rustiness in that particular game…
And as it turns out, this is only half the story, as the matchmaking is interspersed with snatches of verbatim testimony, offering up powerful mini case studies of the unlucky in love. Those who constantly choose the ‘wrong’ person to be with, those craving lifelong security even in these unlikely of circumstances, those hung up on romances of the past which are proving difficult to shake off. We’re gently encouraged to share our own stories too, should the mood take you.
The result is a fun, if a little chaotic evening. Some issues are practical – if you’re going to ask people to take selfies, give them a chance to actually do and maybe hashtag ’em out. Others are more structural – the little musical ditties that bookend the show feel a tad out of place, and the tension between the two aspects of the show leaves both feeling under-developed. The emerging storyline between some of the characters in the room has the potential to grow into something really affecting. But this, plus the verbatim testimony, plus the dating activities is a lot to pack into an hour. Still, its a fascinating piece full of potential.