Exploring the world of online dating is not a new concept. Singles have been using the Internet to find their perfect match for decades. What is fairly new, however, is that rather than being seen as a hunting ground for the desperate and dateless, online dating is now regarded as a very acceptable way to find a mate. From 18 to 80, more and more of the unattached are looking online to snag a little romance, or at best a long-term relationship.
It’s this enlightened perception of finding love, from the click of a button or swiping right, that inspired the Ensemble Theatre’s Artistic Director Mark Kilmurry to write and direct Outdated, a comedy centred around this 21stCentury mating ritual.
He cleverly thrusts Rachel Gordon and Yalin Ozucelik together to play the two 40-ish protagonists Olivia and Matt. The pair was phenomenal as husband and wife in the Norman Conquests trilogy at the Ensemble Theatre in 2018 and none of that effortless chemistry is lost in Outdated as they navigate the minefield of putting themselves back out there on the dating scene.
While there are plenty of laugh out loud moments throughout, there are also poignant moments to remind you of the loneliness often felt by singles desperate to connect and the awkwardness they suffer trying to sell themselves at middle age.
Kilmurry experiments with external and internal monologues where you could not only hear what Olivia and Matt are saying to each other, but also what they are really thinking via sneaky asides to the audience. However, the method is distracting, cluttering the bumbling moments and diverting too much from the characters themselves. Awkwardness is often best expressed by silence, body language and blunders. It needs no translation.
There is still plenty of fun to be had, highlighted by a priceless jogging date where Olivia’s one-sided rambling conversation and Matt’s stumbling exhaustion are hilariously played out, Olivia’s attempt at ‘karaoke therapy’ and a vertical bed scene reflecting choreography at its best.
Kilmurry’s done well with his research, creating characters deliciously real and vulnerable. Both are flawed, both have been hurt, both are just ordinary accomplished people stuck in an extraordinary world where meeting others relies on forced circumstances and expectations, rather than a casual conversation sparked at a party or in a bar. You find yourself becoming just as desperate as they are to find love, somehow, somewhere with someone.
Outdated is at the Ensemble Theatre until April 17. Visit ensemble.com.au