Pros: A great cast with a smart and quirky interpretation of 90s pop music.
Cons: A wafer thin plot that goes missing after the first ten minutes.
So it is the late 90s; girl power is in full swing; Brad and Jen are still together and New Labour is in power – seemingly things can only get better. But not for poor Jess, who has just been dumped by her perfect man. Crestfallen, she weeps as a procession of voicemail messages roll in; the usual mix of bleeding hearts to plain old fashioned forget him and get on with your life. Her friends Amanda, Charlie and Molly are determined to cheer her up and they go for a night out… speed dating! But can meeting a man a minute mend a broken heart?
Well, that’s debatable as the storyline disappears more quickly than a tub of Haagen-Dazs on a summer’s day. Not that the show needs to be a social document, but an opportunity may have been missed to develop a stronger storyline using a 90s backdrop, which, in retrospect, was a more eventful decade than originally thought. If I was being picky, speed dating didn’t take off until the Noughties (the world’s first speed date event wasn’t staged until the late 90s). But then again, this is all about the songs; an irresistible homage to hit tunes by the Spice Girls, All Saints, B*Witched, Shania Twain, Britney and Christina. A series of alternating spotlights feature a snapshot of each date as the songs fall with surprising ease into each scenario. The vocal arrangements put many songs in a new light, particularly Shania Twain’s that don’t impress me much. Within the intimate confines of King’s Head, you just know audience participation is never too far away; and so Ollie, sitting innocently in the front row, became one of Amanda’s speed dates for the night. Some brilliantly funny exchanges followed, which worked so well I still wonder whether Ollie was planted?
A show of this type depends entirely on a cast with attitude and personality. Fortunately, they had both in spades with Jessica Brady as the lovable Amanda; Eliza Hewitt-Jones as blonde bombshell Charlie; Natasha Grainger as the intense Jess and Kerrie Thomason as tomboy Molly. Running for around an hour it leaves the audience wanting more. This show could easily be developed beyond the template for a jukebox musical but, having said that, the yardstick ultimately boils down to one word – entertainment. It was great fun!
Written By: Natasha Grainger and Kerrie Thomason
Stage Manager: Alix Rainsby
Lighting Designer: Clancy Flynn
Producer: Swipe Right Theatre Company
Box Office: 0207 226 8561
Booking Link: https://kingsheadtheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873570390/events/128089568
Booking until: 29 April 2017