Algorithms By Sadie Clark at Park Theatre | Review

An Algorithm is “a finite sequence of mathematically rigorous instructions used to solve specific problems or perform computations (Copilot)“. The seventy-minute one-person play Algorithms was written pre-Covid in 2018 by Sadie Clark, “a queer, bisexual, neurodivergent writer“, according to the programme notes, who also performs her own play.

Algorithms at Park Theatre. Photo credit Ali Wright.
Algorithms at Park Theatre. Photo credit Ali Wright.

This concerns Brooke (Clark), who, on the surface, has it all: the job, the flat, the girlfriend… She is the algorithm writer for a dating app: she literally codes attraction, so when she surprisingly finds herself single again she decides to try her own app!

Urgency is given to her search for a partner by her upcoming 30th birthday party which her mother insists on hosting, as well as inviting potential boyfriend Harry, he of the red chinos (I shall never wear mine again after this play!). We wonder at Brooke’s competence with technology after she shares all her rather risque ‘selfies’ with everyone listed on her phone! It is a shame that more is not made of this mental aberration!!

The press release says that the piece is a “bisexual Bridget Jones for the online generation” and in many respects this is accurate, but, having been written about technology six years ago, it does perhaps feel a little ‘dated’. A lot has happened in six years, besides which it would have been great to have seen at least some of the other characters in Clark’s play: mother (especially!), Frankie, with whom she has superb sex she tells us! as well as the aforementioned Harry!

Clark acts out her play with tremendous energy and commitment, and has been greatly aided by the perceptive direction of Madelaine Moore who manages to keep the piece flowing, subtly pointing out Brooke’s highs and lows and covering some of the weaker writing. Having said that, Clark’s performance is both amusing and poignant and was clearly enjoyed and appreciated by the audience at Park Theatre at the performance I attended.

The simple set design of a gold slash curtain and similarly painted boxes and steps are effective, but even more effective would have been Brooke’s flat and/or her office so that we get more of a picture of how she lives and works. The unobtrusive lighting design is by Jenifer Rose and apt music and sound are by Nicola T Chang.

I look forward to seeing Sadie Clark’s next foray into playwriting, perhaps something less stereotyped and with more depth, but until then, Algorithms is well worth the journey to Finsbury Park.

4 stars

Review by John Groves

Brooke has it all: the job, the flat, the girlfriend… but what happens when things go tits up just before your 30th birthday?

Hopeless romantic Brooke is the algorithm writer for a dating app – she literally codes attraction – so when she finds herself unexpectedly single, she decides to give the science of love (online dating) a chance.

A bisexual Bridget Jones for the online generation, this tragicomic one-woman show, and its lovably hapless heroine, is for anyone who’s ever felt like they were too much and not enough at the same time.

Written and performed by Sadie Clark (12 Theatre Stars for 2020, The Guardian) and winner of the TV Foundation’s Netflix Stage to Screen New Voice Award, Algorithms returns to the stage off the back of its award-winning adaptation into an Audible Original series.

By Sadie Clark
Directed by Madelaine Moore
A bisexual Bridget Jones for the online generation

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