Saturday, 17 November 2012

Carbon Dating - review

Written by: Elodie Vidal (@ElodieVidal)

Jack Studio Theatre, Brockley 

Carbon Dating knows how to hook its audience. The play goes off to a great start, featuring audience involvement, an intriguing stage design and dynamic directing; unfortunately, it struggles to live up to expectations as the play goes on.

Playwright Ron Elisha presents the dating shenanigans of eleven interconnected individuals. Chloe (Laura Evelyn), Giselle (Morwenna Loughman), Sienna (Helena Doughty), and Nel (Caroline George) attempt to move on from the perfect Stewart (Igor Medeiros); Lola (Lauren Harvey) seeks a soul compatible to her own; Chase is after the trophy wife that will show his Armani suits to advantage. Under the disgruntled eye of waiter Damien (Will Parrott), they will face a range of embarrassing situations that will lead them to wonder whether the search for ‘the one’ really is worth it all.

By the time the daters take the stage, Carbon Dating has already aroused its audience’s curiosity. Before entering the auditorium, spectators are enjoined to announce their dating status with stickers of different colours. Parrott then welcomes them inside in character, using the stickers to interact with newcomers. The set design, a restaurant with a very unusual menu of Specials, adds the finishing touch to the fun atmosphere. Right after the cast makes its entrance however, buzzing across the stage in their anxious preparations for a date night, the pressure falls. Director John Fricker suddenly adopts a very static style of staging that mainly consists of couples sitting at tables. The stickers are forgotten. The Specials menu lies neglected. The production settles into a routine.
Elisha’s text itself might contribute to this loss of energy, for it, too, fails to honour its promises. Trapping characters in the dating circuit is not a new premise, but one that nonetheless retains potential for character development and a discussion of love and society. Elisha, however, chooses to ignore this potential. His characters never learn or grow, with the possible exception of Lola who hints at a change in her final line. What’s more, the play’s presentation of dating is too traditional to bring anything new to a discussion of love in the 21st century. Notably, homosexuality only appears in the last scene, and is posited as an obstacle to successful dating. Without any true depth of character or subtext, the piece becomes a succession of scenes that hovers between play and comedy night.

On the other hand, the play’s shortcomings allow for a focus on performance, and the company rises to the occasion. The Laura Evelyn-Noah James pair is the perfect introduction to the night as it depicts a clash of insecurities. Harvey shines as Lola, winning the audience over with her charming naïveté. Each personality is so vivid as to become instantly recognisable, and to create anticipation for the next encounter.

All in all, with its uneven directing, simplistic characters and outdated representation of dating, Carbon Dating never fulfils its true potential, but its cast still succeeds in showing their audience a good time.

This production runs until 1 December 2012. 

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1 comment:

keesh said...

Carbon dating is cool! I found it nice and just heard about it..I would also like to share about how nice Magnetic dating also..