Brooke (Sadie Clark) has written the codes – or the algorithms of the play’s title – for an online dating service that she works for. With a warm and engaging manner, the audience is taken through the kind of quarter-life crisis that has been witnessed time and time again on the stages of the Edinburgh Fringe. ‘Everyone else’ in a central character’s circle of friends and acquaintances has been paired off, or otherwise happy in their singlehood, doing their own thing. And then there’s Brooke, in need of companionship, somehow lonely in a world filled with more people than the planet can comfortably sustain at current levels of material consumption. It’s a case of ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) that jolts her into action.
There’s a deadline: her thirtieth birthday is approaching, and there is pressure, partly self-induced, partly stemming from her mother, to get a move on and settle down. Clark’s Brooke captures the almost inevitable awkwardness of first dates (yes, plural) and the cryptic, if civilised, manner in which the British generally like to break off gently. Brooke isn’t told to ‘shut up and go away’ – she’s told, as so many others have been before, that the other person is ‘really busy at the moment with work and everything’, and so on, until the penny finally drops.
A large number of characters are voiced well – Clark nails miscellaneous accents perfectly, and frankly she would do well on a show like NBC Television’s Saturday Night Live. Millennial living is raw and messy, this 29-year-old woman who happens to be bisexual, it’s unusual and refreshing to encounter a show that doesn’t just do a coming out, only for the rest of the show to be entirely about being of a certain sexual orientation. There’s a lot crammed into the show, and yet it doesn’t feel rushed. The message of the play appears to be that human beings are far more complex than the most sophisticated dating websites can cope with. Fellow audience members compared the
show to Fleabag, I suspect because there are similarities between the characters’ frustrations and vulnerabilities.
“You do you” is the closing mantra of the show, and part of me wondered, “Really? Is that it?” Then again, there can never be enough reminders given about living one’s own life and living it well. With a song and dance to round things off, this is a slick and amusing production.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Brooke has it all: the job, the flat, the girlfriend… but what happens when things go tits up just before your 30th birthday? A bisexual Bridget Jones for the online generation, this tragicomic one-woman play and its lovably hapless heroine is for anyone who’s wondered why they feel so lonely when connecting with others is meant to be easier than ever. Developed on the Soho Theatre Writer’s Lab and longlisted for the Tony Craze Award 2018. ‘A brave, bold and brilliantly funny show’ (Lisa Walters, Channel 4).