Tuesday 27 September 2016

Onstage Dating - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

The dating game is a hard one to keep up with, let alone win. With online dating apps more or less becoming the most common way in meeting someone, going on a first date and getting to know someone from scratch by face-to-face is a distant memory. In her Melbourne Fringe Festival show, OnStage Dating, Bron Batten is determined to change things, by having a first date with a member of the audience on stage - and the results are priceless.

The show opens in a colourful and attention grabbing way and from then on, we are all putty in Batten’s hands as she recalls memories of bad dates and describes the science behind dating and human interactions. Eventually she pulls out the pre-filled questionnaires from all the participants willing to be her date, and I am surprised by how many there are.

In a show that requires heavily in having the “right” audience volunteer, one that will go along for the ride and have a “yes” attitude, Batten could not have picked anyone more perfect - and in more ways than one – than Alex. Alex: who works for the Greens and cries from joy as he is riding an electric motorcycle. There was not one person in the venue that was not swooning over Alex, but I digress...

The date begins over wine and dinner and then progresses as first dates can often lead to, the lounge room. Throughout the date, Batten asks Alex (and vice versa) some getting-to-know-you questions, some are comical and some are a bit deeper. The openness and willingness they both share on stage is quite touching and despite it being a Fringe show, you almost feel like there is a genuine connection.

While OnStage Dating can be taken as a fun show in which to have some great laughs (which it is), it is also a reminder that nothing can ever replace human face-to-face interaction. While we may all be leading very busy lives that make dating apps ideal, we should be making time for these encounters, as the outcomes might be a welcome surprise. So if you’re feeling brave go ahead and volunteer to be one of Batten’s dates, if not, then just go and enjoy a highly entertaining hour of laughs.

Click here to read my interview with Bron Batten. 

Venue: Fringe Hub - Arts House, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne, 3051
Season: until 1 October | Tues - Sat 8pm, Sun 7pm
Length: 60 minutes

Tickets: $24 Full | $20 Conc | $18 Cheap Tuesday
Bookings: MelbourneFringe Festival

* Original review appeared on Theatre Press on 27 September 2016.

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