Etcetera Theatre, London – until 22 August 2021
Quackpot Productions has brought a fresh and quirky show to the Camden Fringe, in which Tim and Gill’s budding romance goes anything but smoothly. Wickedly funny, Charlie Dryden (his spot-on timing and physicality brought to mind comics past such as Peter Cook’s know-it-all EL Wisty and the cartoonish work of Marty Feldman) and Alice Fforde (whose reactions are priceless) have created an hour long show which is as awkward as you can get as Tim proves to be the potential love interest from hell.
With a minimal use of props, instead conjuring up different settings from a rearrangement of chairs and the introduction of a few, peripheral, characters (I particularly enjoyed ‘random Irish woman’), Meet Cute rarely falters, even if you start questioning the integrity of this over-keen bumbler from his first stumble off the train.
There’s a clever use of music, too, with over-familiar tunes barging in to signpost internal feelings. Puns galore, too, which I won’t quote for fear of spoiling them but which will make you wince through your laughter. Fforde and Dryden started Quackpot Productions after leaving LAMDA and finding themselves a a loose end during pandemic lockdown.
They have already tackled the perils of online dating in Lockdown Love Story, currently streaming in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, so clearly their initial niche is whether love can really run smoothly for millennials in the 21st century. Meet Cute is, for course, an exaggerated story for comic effect, but some moments still ring true – saying the wrong thing, misreading the signals, being an idiot when you want to impress, crossing the line of what’s appropriate.
I laughed a lot, and you might too, at what is at heart a smashing show with something new to say. My only gripe with the show was that the ending, although amusing, was weak compared to the tight writing of previous scenes – it needed a bit more oomph and closure, and there is s slight sense of something missing.
I’d recommend going along and seeing these two as they are just starting out as a company – I suspect they are destined to come up with equally promising work in the future and they complement each other very well in this two-hander, occasionally breaking the fourth wall, but largely playing off each other’s strengths.
You can see Meet Cute at the Etcetera Theatre as part of the Camden Fringe – remaining performances are at 1.30pm on the 20 August and 11.30am on the 22 August. Book your tickets here and visit Quackpot Productions’s website to find out more about the company.
Fringe rating: ****
Image credit: Zoe Birkbeck
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