D.I.M- Department of Ideal Matchmaking

Fri 17th – Tue 28th July 2015


Jenny Burton

at 11:01 on 18th Aug 2015



Department of Ideal Matchmaking (D.I.M.) cannot quite be described as a match made in heaven, but it just about manages to entertain its audience through the infectious charm of its cast.

Set in an enigmatic future time, Annabella Sami and Ari Rice’s D.I.M. presents a first date between (female) primary school teacher Kris and (male) Ed Sheeran wannabe, Jude. Despite the easy-going scenario in which the protagonists find themselves, there is a catch: the government controls all aspects of dating life and has imposed a role that each singleton must bring their ex (or exes) to the rendezvous. The awkward atmosphere causes a brawl to break out between the eclectic personalities and incomprehensively leads to a power cut and a partner swap.

With a simple script and misplaced lyrics, D.I.M. didn’t quite manage to impress, but when the actors appear to be having so much fun, it is difficult not to become entangled in their joy. The harmonies were few and far between and the seemingly random mix of music genres did not flow evenly. The confusion continued as the script spiralled out of control, leading some characters such as the Waitress (Maria Hunter) to err on the side of slapstick with regular tap dancing and an over-sized pencil, while others strived for emotion. Perhaps this disorder can be forgiven due to first night teething problems, but matters were not helped by the lack of microphones and the odd fumbled line.

The Pianist (Sophie Davies) was a particular highlight, with brilliant comedic timing as a drunken reject trying to be part of the action. A fantastic voice rendered her solo convincing and powerful, but unfortunately stood out dramatically when contrasted with Noah (Helena Banerjee) and the Waitress (Hunter). Chelsea boy Jo (George Readshaw) had a commendable performance, despite perhaps an implausible back story (I wasn’t quite persuaded that he is married with two children), but he did seem like the “one who got away”. Although I was glad he did not stay away as the performance needed his sharp one-liners to hold the piece together.

All in all, Department of Ideal Matchmaking suits its title: D.I.M. It is certainly not the most intelligent writing, nor is it the strongest musical talent at the fringe, but it does elude an air of cheekiness that makes their silliness all a bit of fun.


Catherine Crook

at 11:13 on 18th Aug 2015



In an unspecified but distinctly modern location, all first dates are now to be administered by the Department of Ideal Matchmaking (or D.I.M), a government agency represented as confident of its matchmaking success by Agent Walker (Sophia Walker). However, under D.I.M legislature, all of the previous ex-partners of the two dates must be present – and what ensues is a chaotic first date between new flames Kris (Alex Legge) and Jude (Jack Ridley), set to a catchy musical background.

The original music, by Annabelle Sami and Ari Rice was performed by a band consisting of two guitarists and a pianist, played by Sophie Davies; the latter being one of the strongest vocalists in the ensemble cast. While I found the music to at times be slightly too simple, there was no doubt as to its infectious quality – catchy lyrics such as Jude’s ‘I’m trying to be a nice guy!’ stuck in my head after the show.

Although it was in keeping with the madcap nature of the show, there were moments that seemed to appear out of nowhere – why, all of a sudden, did a light-hearted show about a first date gone wrong transform into a lament about characters never being fully appreciated for their work? The use of darkness, although amusing at first, soon became simply frustrating; the strength of the characterisation of the actors was lost to a lighting feature that I felt detracted from the overall impact of the performance.

Moments of metatheatricality that initially seemed to have a lot of promise – such as in Agent Walker’s opening, where she moves her fellow cast members around whilst in freeze-frame and as a joking aside tells us “They’re frozen!” – were not fully sustained well enough to make the comedic impact they seemed to promise they would at the beginning.

Despite this, D.I.M did contain some laugh-out-loud moments, and the tap-dancing interludes from Maria Hunter provided a comedic gift that kept on giving. The choreography in general was one of the piece’s strongest aspects, with both the tango between Nikki (Grace Cameron) and Noah (Helena Banerjee) and the cowboy dance number eliciting strong laughs from the audience.

All in all, I found D.I.M to be an enjoyable piece of theatre, and Queen Mary Theatre Company’s enthusiasm for the original music and choreography really shone through. Despite its comedic aspects, it lacked the originality to really stand out from many other musicals at the Fringe – although let it serve as a cautionary tale in the event that the government should ever intervene in people’s love lives!


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