“A more slick delivery of this piece will ensure that it fulfills its potential”
In the cold brutality of a gay male scene that revolves so heavily around physical appearance, Guy is looking for love. Unfortunately he is dealing with his own insecurities, perpetuated by lists of turn offs and prejudices.
The overall narrative arch is lovely. It works really well and ties each of the people and story arcs together in its final moments. It also begins vital discussions about a scene that requires you to either go out on Canal Street or hookup with people via Grindr to meet anyone. The musical exposes the incredible pressures faced by gay men to look a certain way, both in terms of weight and race, and touches on obsessive gym routines and eating disorders as a product of these pressures. It is also refreshing to see a somewhat positive queer narrative that does not fall into the stereotypical subject categories.
The cast are strong and work well together. They all have fantastic voices, and bring the moments of choreography to life with an infectious dynamism. Musically, the actors feel uncertain at points. The score is heavily electronic which is highly effective, unexpected and undoubtedly clever, a conscious reflection of this clubbing based scene, but it feels at times like it leaves the actors with too little musical support. Frequently the music jars with their melodies and makes moments that may well have been accurate seem out of tune or time. This is perhaps something that will be ironed out as the show’s run progresses. It is however an undoubtedly exciting score by Stephen Hyde, supported by funny, well-observed book and lyrics by Leoe Mercer – clearly a very talented and ambitious duo.
A more slick delivery of this piece will ensure that it fulfills its potential, but ultimately this is a refreshing, well-observed and fun look at the gay scene, love and personal acceptance.
“There is a lovely use of actors amongst the audience members which adds another layer to the piece”
When I arrive I am given a sticker with a number and a colour on and sent to the corresponding chair by one of the evening’s hosts, Ruth. The show is opened by our second host, Jim, who greets us with a comedy song – always a good start. This is an interactive dating experience with a difference, inclusive and not driven by stereotypical romantic ideas but rather by a desire to connect. It is interspersed by personal stories from planted cast members about why they are here, including the underlying story of host Jim and his divorced Dad.
There is a lovely use of actors amongst the audience members which adds another layer to the piece as we are perpetually kept guessing as to who is an actor and who is an audience member. Their personal stories add a really lovely element but with more time it would have been nice to see Jim and his Dad’s arch more fully developed and resolved.
In a city that is often described as overwhelming and isolating, ‘Kiss Chase’ is a lovely idea that aims to create a space for connection. Unfortunately, the time spent with each person is so brief that it is hard to establish any real connection in this time. The option to stay connected or not with your partner of the moment, whilst phrased really well, is still laced with a strange pressure, particularly when you have to fill out this form still seated next to them, and I’m not sure how necessary it is for the furthering of the piece.
The most affecting moment of the piece was when an audience member chose to share an experience of a friend’s support during a breakup she went through. It is credit to the production that they were able to create a space where someone felt comfortable disclosing something so personal so honestly, and this piece would benefit from facilitating this space of honesty and trust further, to allow for more of these moments.
This is a really fun idea delivered by a strong cast, but it has some way to go in its development to ensure that its aspirational aims are successfully fulfilled to their potential.