Reviewed – 15th March 2021
“a missed opportunity to show what can be done with theatre online”
Ian Hallard’s new play Adventurous tackles a subject dear to many hearts—that of online dating. It takes place during 2020, so it’s not surprising that much of the humour in every scene arises from the enormous changes that a pandemic has brought to our social interactions.
Directed by Khadifa Wong; produced by the Jermyn Street Theatre, and starring Ian Hallard as Richard, and Sara Crowe as Rosalind, Adventurous follows a diffident pair of lonely hearts over several months from their first meeting during lockdown. Richard and Ros do manage to have one socially distanced dinner in a restaurant during more relaxed times in summer. But the relationship is resumed via Zoom again as the weather grows colder, and restrictions on activities increase.
A Zoom drama tends to focus attention on the actors, and rightly so. In Adventurous, Ian Hallard and Sara Crowe show a deft touch playing two characters who are, respectively, a secondary school teacher with a sexual problem, and a stay at home carer to a disabled sister (recently deceased). As the backstory to each character emerges, though, it seems like a miracle that they ever connected in the first place. In a life without lockdown, they wouldn’t have. This is apparent early on in the amusing misunderstandings between two people with very different experiences of life. And just as people’s descriptions of themselves on dating sites rarely measure up in “real life”, we discover that relationship hopeful Ros has also indulged in a smidgen of exaggeration in her profile. In fairness, it is a hope, rather than a lie, that leads Ros to describe herself as “adventurous” on the site that introduces her to Richard. But in truth, neither she nor Richard are particularly adventurous, and this is the rock on which both their budding relationship, and the play, eventually founder.
RIchard and Ros are pleasant company, but Adventurous doesn’t really catch fire until Ros’ curiosity about Richard’s soon to be ex wife Lois leads her to contact Lois on Facebook. And kudos to Katherine Jakeways for a lovely cameo as the abrasive Lois. For a brief moment, Ros does become “adventurous” as she confronts Richard’s abusive ex, and the experience changes her life. Sadly, it does not change Richard’s, although Ros plays an important part in helping him to find closure with the “exhausting” Lois.
Adventurous is a light hearted entertainment that will appeal to viewers looking for a situational comedy with accomplished actors. But it’s also a missed opportunity to show what can be done with theatre online. And viewing a comedy without a live audience is a sad reminder of how much we need the pandemic to end. Let’s hope it’s not too long before audiences can safely re-enter theatres.
Reviewed by Dominica Plummer
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