SCENE IT: An exploration of sex, love & tinder-dating in HOW TO DATE LIKE A F*#$ING GROWNUP

Barbara Loots

 

It was with great excitement that we took our seats to see HOW TO DATE LIKE A F*#$ING GROWNUP at Gallery44 and Theatre. Following two years of theater-depression, a new musical, especially in the realm of independent theatre, is to be celebrated... and we are here for that celebration in all its forms and stages.

Forming part of the ‘New Spaces Initiative’, this VR Theatrical production is a musical born from the collaboration of Daniel Keith Geddes (director, score, and lyrics) and Mark Tatham (book and lyrics). This small-scale musical with its nifty title (inspired by contemporary self-help books) is aimed at drawing a younger audience into theatre spaces as they reopen doors and revive our beloved industry for performers and patrons alike.


Setting its sights clearly on a specific audience, this show speaks to those who understand the difference between swiping left or right.


The style of this musical is reminiscent of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. In a similar vein, HOW TO DATE LIKE A F*#$ING GROWNUP is a series of vignettes that reveals the the turmoil of dating, sex, and the social experiment of finding your person.


The nervous energy of first-date insecurities is front and centre as the cast invites the audience into their world of Tinder, Bumble, and Netflix and Chill. The creative team does well to avoid the overly jaded-tone-trap of shows about dating and the quest for the ever-elusive 'the one': It ultimately embraces the idea of hope and new connections, rather than indulging in anything sulky. The flip-side of this is that, even with a few heartfelt moments, the musical also avoids exploring in any meaningful way the depth of emotional connections; its fun elements rather lean on characters as relatable caricatures.


The young, talented cast of Stuart Brown, Dean de Klerk, Nicolette Fernandez, and Megan Spencer reveal their passion for musical theatre with vibrancy: Simply seeing a performer embrace and indulge in their craft is always a joyful experience.


The troop has good onstage chemistry and plays well off each other’s energy. All four showcase striking vocals and harmonies throughout solos and duets. When the ensemble gets the opportunity to belt out in unity, a lack of sound balancing sadly leaves them in the lurch with the audience required to stretch their ears to catch the lyrics. But that is something that is easily fixed with a bit of technical tweaking.


The songs are catchy with echoes of contemporary pop that will make it feel familiar in tone. The flow of the musical itself can be structurally strengthened with a bit of a rethink as to the arrangement of the songs. The current sequence creates the impression that all is sung and done with three numbers still to go, which leaves you as audience member a bit out of sync with the momentum the show is clearly trying create.


The creative team, cast, and crew are to be applauded for their bravery in putting their vision and hearts on the stage in such an ambitious manner. HOW TO DATE LIKE A F*#$ING GROWNUP is a tiny musical with great potential and we are sure it will only grow in strength as it is nurtured through the talent and ever-developing experience of all involved.


HOW TO DATE LIKE A F*#$ING GROWNUP will likely appeal most to Millennials and Gen Z-ers who will be able to relate to the ups and downs of the online dating scene. If you look at the world through Instagram filters and binged the Tinder Swindler as a cautionary tale, then this musical will possibly make you squeal with delight.


You have until 26 February 2022 to see this lighthearted show about the tinder-dating-years at Gallery44 and Theatre. Tickets are available online through Quicket. No under 16s.