Tristan Bates Theatre
Reviewed – 14th August 2018
“Barrow and Rivers, as the Love Lab guinea pigs, have a wonderful chemistry together“
A flash of searing white light fills the small room of the Tristan Bates Theatre, and with that, it’s action. Cameras are rolling and it’s time to make a match. Love Lab, a new play that’s part of the Camden Fringe, is a frighteningly perceptive look at our technology-obsessed world, and how social media and reality TV are changing the way in which we make decisions – particularly with our love life. With witty and astute observations, it certainly makes you question the dangers and insanity that comes with our digital age.
Livia (Harriet Barrow) and Perry (Michael Rivers) find themselves locked in a confined space. They have never met before, but soon will be closely acquainted. They are the current batch of contestants for the new dating show, Love Lab, which claims to be able to match you with ‘the one’. Having to stay within the enclosed room together for a week, with nothing but each other’s company and the disembodied voice of Lucy, asking them questions and offering tasks, will they find that they are meant to be together? As Lucy’s questions begin to distort, becoming far more personal and twisted, Livia and Perry endure having their private lives exposed to the nation, ready to be scrutinised by all.
Barrow and Rivers, as the Love Lab guinea pigs, have a wonderful chemistry together. One is a technophobe who takes pleasure from the little things in life, the other, a social media whiz who aspires to be recognisable. Their contrasting and often bickering personalities spark an often comical, quick-witted repartee between them, which is a pleasure to watch.
The clinical feel of the set and lighting design helps provide the darker thematic undertones that run throughout the play, hinting to the psychological damage technology is causing. Sitting somewhere between Big Brother and Love Island, the concept for the TV show seems far too plausible for comfort. Love Lab has the dystopian sense of reality that Black Mirror has daunted us with in recent years. To those who lead dating app swiping, reality TV binging lives, Love Lab is a reminder of what it is like to communicate without the reliance of a screen or a WiFi password. A highly entertaining, yet claustrophobic sixty minutes that doesn’t shy away from challenging our societal norms.
Reviewed by Phoebe Cole
Photography courtesy d’Animate
Tristan Bates Theatre until 18th August
as part of The Camden Fringe Festival 2018