Ensemble Theatre, March 10
Outdated is a new play written and directed by Mark Kilmurry, artistic director of the Ensemble Theatre, exploring the jungle of online dating for battle-scarred middle-agers. It’s a scenario with great potential for humour, but the laughs are limited in this two-hander.
Olivia and Matt meet through an online dating app. They’re both in their 40s, both super nervous, both carrying the baggage of previous relationships. On their first date there’s no obvious spark, but they go back for more. Second time around, no spark yet. Try again… Still no spark.
The story is told in a series of short sketches, like a TV sitcom, and uses the TV technique-du-jour of breaking the fourth wall, with each character offering direct-to-camera comments as they endure the trials of a blind date. These internal monologues are initially entertaining but they become repetitive as the action goes on, making the stilted conversation more awkward than it already is. Indeed, much of the humour is based on embarrassment, both for the characters and for the audience, as Matt and Olivia struggle to maintain a conversation.
Yalin Ozucelik (Matt) and Rachel Gordon (Olivia) battle on through the disjointed dialogue, jumping between internal and external voices seamlessly. They throw themselves into the physical humour of the piece, hamming up the awkward meeting etiquette and pratfalls. Highlights include a jogging date, which sees Matt trying and failing to keep up with Olivia, and Olivia’s foray into what she dubs “karaoke therapy”.
They also make the most of some great one-liners, but there are not enough of them to sustain the 90-minute show.
Outdated feels like a missed opportunity, both as a vehicle for the cast, and as an exploration of a current and highly relatable social phenomenon. We don’t see a huge development in the characters, nor yet do we see any real engagement with the difficulties of 21st century matchmaking. Perhaps that is too much to expect from a light-hearted romantic comedy. But I would at least expect more romance. And more comedy.
Until April 17