I had no idea such a movement existed, but it does: pickup artists ply their trade by sharing ideas about how to achieve sexual success with women. At first glance, it seems rather pathetic, with Jay Spears (Rufus Love, standing in for Adam Deary at the performance I attended) taking a group of men through a week-long ‘boot camp’, at the end of which they will supposedly have all the tools they need to seduce and conquer (yep, conquer) a woman.
As Cassie (Rachel Morris) later seems to assert, the instinct to stay away and have nothing to do with any of it is worth resisting, and despite the (rightly) sarcastic nature of this production, there’s nothing wrong with finding out what tactics and strategies these seduction coaches teach their students. Knowledge is power, and if women can detect where a conversation with a seducer is potentially going, they can outwit their would-be predator at their own game. ‘Game’, unfortunately, is the operative word, even if Adam (Eddie House) is such a rookie at dating he gets sussed out fairly quickly in any event.
The almost breakneck pace that the show starts with isn’t maintained for the nearly ninety-minute running time. One would have thought the change of speed would be welcome, and in some ways, it is, but there’s a feeling that the play begins to lose momentum. Whether it’s a deliberate choice, I couldn’t possibly say, but it’s as though the production needs a boost from Jay to take proceedings back up to the high octane levels they started with. What was most hilarious to me was Jay’s ‘one size fits all’ approach – the consistent idea that all women universally exhibit the same traits and behaviours. What will apparently impress one will impress all.
Completing the set of on-stage characters is Cassie’s best friend Sarah (Sophia Hirsch), who is prone to spending time and money on programmes and classes that are just as questionable as dating coaching. The play achieves a sense of balance, without coming across as sitting on the fence – one doesn’t get the feeling that there’s a bias towards a feminist perspective, or indeed towards a misogynistic one, providing sufficiently thorough consideration of different views, however pleasant or unpalatable some of these may be. Somewhat bizarrely, Sarah takes Cassie to task for raising her voice, only to do the same, and with greater magnitude, just a moment later.
The set is more of a ‘white box’ than a ‘black box’, and is rather minimalist, which allows for some very quick scene changes. It’s worth noting that quite a lot of what Jay says, although when spoken out loud and without much, if any, subtlety, constitutes what a significant number of people in society at large actually believe – whether they realise it or not. There’s a degree of playing to the gallery, but this is forgiven, at least for me, because the absurdity in the play is a source of comic relief from the problems various characters are grappling with.
As ever, sardonic humour won’t appeal to everyone: here, the bitterness and ridicule is never overdone. There are no straightforward solutions as to what, if anything, should be done with the pickup community, which gives audience members a topic of discussion on the way home. A thoughtful and yet highly amusing piece of theatre.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Pick-up artistry. Game. Seduction coaching…
Whatever you call it, it’s a multi-million-dollar industry where men learn strategies to meet and sleep with women.
The Cold Approach is a quickfire, whip-smart four-hander that takes a stingingly satirical look at this toxic subculture.
Jay is a fast-talking seduction coach.
Adam is one of his students, desperate to transform his love life…
Cassie and Sarah are caught in the crosshairs.
Come and see this riotous new play that raises big questions about sex, sexism, masculinity and accountability.
Bootcamp Lesson 1:
If you say sorry, she’ll say sorry. Sorry little sorry-boy, I’m off to shag an alpha. And that my friends, is the law of the jungle.
Adam Deary – Jay Spears
Sophia Hirsch – Sarah
Eddie House – Adam
Rachel Morris – Cassie
Writer-Director – Rufus Love