views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

A Tinder Trilogy
The Hen and Chickens
5th August 2018


Publicity photo for A Tinder Trilogy

Photography provided by Feeling Gorgeous Theatre

Shows about online dating never fail to attract an audience, for one simple reason: everyone's doing it. Not everyone is talking about it, but everyone is doing it. Unless you settled down a decade or so ago (how are you enjoying your smug coupledom, eh?), at some point you'll have given Tinder, Grindr or any of the johnny-come-lately apps like Happn or Bumble a go. Annie Jenkins touches on the modern dating scene in A Tinder Trilogy, three separate monologues essentially about loneliness rather than anything else. Her writing isn't, as you might think, about the trials and tribulations of finding love using modern technology, rather more about being alone, despite all the different means available these days of finding someone.

Mollie Macpherson gives a very fierce, relatable portrayal of an independent Geri in Tinder471. She has drawn her own boundaries, she's comfortable with them, and she doesn't need anyone more permanent in her life to feel fulfilled. Her fixation on a childhood toy betrays a softer, more vulnerable side to her. Contrasting against this tough, cold exterior, Jonna Blode Hanno gives a frantic, high-energy performance as Beth in brilliantly-named My Son Is In The Kitchen Eating A Biscuit. She's just had a - well, let's say bad - date, and is debriefing us with it. Completing the line up of mini-plays is Sausage Roll Moment, in which Laura Thomasina Haynes stars as George. She relates to us a story of essentially being pushed out, and coping with that awful loneliness. Whilst they say it's better to have loved and lost, when you've been replaced, it doesn't always feel that way...

There are a few minor hiccups with the tech from Richard Stranks, but all forgivable - hey, it's warm at the moment, and we're willing to overlook hitting the wrong button a bit too soon. Worse happens at sea. Where playwright Jenkins is really let down is in Lucy McCann's misdjudged direction. There are some good ideas there, however McCann misses just how shallow the graduation is of the seating at the Hen and Chickens. Having all three protagonists on stage at the same time, all occupying a different but equally 'safe' space for each character - a teepee, a bed, a blowup chair - really does create some neat framing. We like the concept a lot. The problem is, with all three actresses sitting on the floor and the house sold-out, we really only get to see Macpherson, Blode Hanno and Haynes for the first time when they stand up at the end for their bow. If you're not on your feet at the Hen and Chickens, you're just not visible to the majority of the audience - there is no clear line of sight. McCann has put together something that works - unfortunately, just not in this venue.

Although we can get a lot of the sheer intensity and force of the monologues from the excellent performances being given, being unable to see the facial expressions of each actress almost turns this into a radio play at times, and that prompts a disconnect with the audience. If you crane your neck, you might catch some of it. However, if everyone does that, then inevitably no one really gets a good view. It's such a shame, because from what we do get to experience, Jenkins' writing is very relevant and hard-hitting and the actresses do a fine job of bringing her words to life. At times emotional, at others funny - A Tinder Trilogy is a very well-written show.

With online dating showing no signs of slowing down in popularity, the relevance of Jenkins' work is unlikely to lose its power any time soon, so she really deserves another run to address some of the staging issues in this production and gain a wider audience. If given the chance to see A Tinder Trilogy - and sadly it won't be this Camden Fringe as tickets have been consistently selling out - swipe right.

A Tinder Trilogy opened on 4th August and runs until 7th August 2018 at the Hen and Chickens, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Highbury and Islington (Victoria, Overground)

Follow us on Twitter

Leicester Square







performing arts