Swipe Right is a seemingly simple work about four women in their 20s trying to find someone while sharing their mistakes and embarrassments along the way. The stories, and the characters that tell them, are fresh, funny and frustrating in all of the best ways possible. With a med student questioning her career choice, an inexperienced and terrified lesbian, a sceptical arts graduate, and a no-bullshit lawyer in touch with her sexuality, the four women range in perspectives, and the actors that portray them all have their own unique voice.
The fact that a significant portion of the work is inspired by personal stories from each night’s anonymous audience gave what would be an otherwise simple theatre piece an unexpected level of originality and creativity. The four women blend pre-rehearsed scenarios, character development, and plot progression with improvised stimulus from the collated audience questionnaires seamlessly. The show tracks four cringe-worthy dates from each of the women, with interactions between the four friends being spliced between them. It is unclear where the pre-planned content begins and the improvised inspiration ends, but that is exactly what makes the comedy, stories and characters so captivating.
Jules stands out as the audience favourite, with an agonising awkwardness that is both relatable and endearing, and a performance loaded with incredible comedic timing and genuine improvised responses. Sarah, on the other hand, was disappointing. Her characterisation did nothing to tell the audience that she had an identity beyond being a woman in search of sex, let alone her successful career as a lawyer. There were moments that shone, and others that lagged, but any strains or lulls were excusable once reminded that the content was improvised.
The show’s formation was definitely in need of stronger direction to contain and construct the otherwise unlimited choices that come with the content . Each scene began and concluded with a dance break set to recognisable early noughties pop music. This was funny at first, but quickly became repetitive and stale. While each break provided a playful transition between scenes, both the actors’ pausing to count themselves into the music and continuous placement of the chairs to the same sides of the stage became frustrating to sit through. With further development in the work’s direction, and perhaps the notification that the audience’s stories would influence the show to such a degree, the lagging scenes and repetitive transitions wouldn’t hold back an otherwise delightful and hilarious production.
The improvisation gives this piece a cutting edge within a topic that has become increasingly popular since the rise in social media and dating apps. The women are all individuals, yet they work together as a solid ensemble. I hope this work continues to develop and expand, and I wish I could see it again to discover how the story changes night to night.
Written by Rhumer Diball.
This review is based on the reviewer’s experience of the performance on Friday May 20th.