Pros: The second show, Guy, is enough to make the whole evening worthwhile
Cons: With such contrast between the two shows, a question mark has to be put over the decision to schedule these on the same evening
The Bunker’s remit is new contemporary theatre, and with its short Breaking Out Season it is certainly meeting that. Six shows rotating over a month is a great introduction to these emerging theatre groups. Two shows each night, with the chance to see both at a reduced rate, seems a promising way to pull in the audience.
Kiss Chase, bills itself as part-interactive, part-verbatim speed dating. You’re assigned a seat before you enter, and so the audience become the participants. As with speed dating, you get the chance to meet a number of different partners as the evening progresses. But thankfully it is little more than a five minute chat before you all change seats. With each partner you are guided through various activities. Up first is Nod, Shake, Hug, an interesting variant on Paper, Scissors, Stone, and a great ice breaker as long as you don’t mind a little physical contact. As partners change, so does the format, with rounds of predesigned questions and a little drawing exercise. This led to some brief interesting conversations, but it really did feel like a variation on many of the training courses I have been on over my working life! It also, I’m sorry to say, reminded me of Legz Akimbo, the theatre group from The League Of Gentlemen!
Where it doe become a show is between the dates. The lights go down, a spotlight picks out a member of the audience (stooges placed amongst us) and that person gives a short monologue about relationships. This is clearly the point of the show, to make us think about the various aspects of relationships, good and bad. The problem though, is that this accounts for so little of the hour long performance that it feels too shallow and lacking in depth to sustain the rest.
Thankfully the second show returns us to being an audience, as Guy is a musical which, thankfully doesn’t ask us to get up and sing. This could easily be a very run of the mill musical; it doesn’t say anything new or add to the conversation on dating in the internet world. It is in many ways very messy, in need of a good rewrite to tighten up the story, yet it is still enjoyable. The modern musical style feels fresh (hints of Mike Skinner and The Streets kept popping to mind), and the four strong cast work their socks off to hit every note and dance every step, making it a joyous 90 minutes aurally and visually.
Guy (Brendan Matthew) is overweight, gay and endlessly seeking his perfect partner on Grindr, but failing to connect with the shallow people he chats to as they “aren’t into fat”. When he finds out about “catfishing” he borrows a friend’s photo and is suddenly inundated with offers. The problem being that his friend isn’t so impressed. Guy then decides to try a fitness regime and meets Aziz (Seann Miley Moore). It’s then an up and down affair as their friendship blossoms, Guy learns to love his body and eventually finds that perfect partner.
With fine singing, strong choreography and plenty of laugh out loud moments there’s enough to make it an enjoyable experience. The only real problem is that the story is a bit of a mess, with too many moments that left me confused. Relationships are blurred; I assuming that Guy and Aziz were a couple, before realising that they were just friends, and the whole “I tricked you, I was testing you” ending just adds to the confusion. Still, with a snip here and there, this could be even more fun.
Overall, both shows clearly have an audience, just not the same one, and Kiss Chase especially really needs to seek out its audience if it wants to go anywhere.
Written and directed by: Hannah Samuels
Producer: Second Circle Theatre
Author: Leoe Mercer
Music: Stephen Hyde
Director: Sam Ward
Producers: Leoe Mercer, Dan Mawson
For both shows:
Box Office: 0207 234 0486
Booking link: https://www.bunkertheatre.com/whats-on/breaking-out/about
Booking until: 7th July 2018