Somebody Out There Loves Me

Mon 10th – Sat 22nd August 2015


Louis Shankar

at 09:57 on 23rd Aug 2015



Peculiar Spectacles’ production was certainly peculiar. Revolving around a dating app claiming 99% efficiency, Kindlr, it felt very much as if the playwright had considered writing something about modern dating and merely gone from there: it’s not a bad idea but needs a lot more work. As a first draft, it’s passable; as a finished product, it failed to impress.

The script - by Christopher Evans - was stilted, with jokes falling flat and dialogue feeling uncomfortable; there were a few laughs but they often came at the wrong time. Characters were altogether two-dimensional; this was fine for the cameo roles but the leads felt underdeveloped given their thirty minutes of stage-time.

The actors’ performances weren’t flawless either. Sarah Wright and Jay Jivani, as the two central characters, had some good moments with strong, believable chemistry, although both were inconsistent between contrasting scenes. There were moments of tenderness but the subtext of their friendship, which provided an intriguing final twist, was unconvincing.

The two actors who switched between several parts did so surprisingly well: James Soulsby managed to switch between an awkward introvert and an abrasive lad without effort, although both parts felt caricatured. Similarly, Rebecca Hannon convincingly created contrasting characters but something was definitely lacking, although this may have been due to the script.

There was a palpable awkwardness throughout the show; however, it was unclear how deliberate this was. When the premise involves online hookups and dating, some awkwardness is necessary. A first date had both parties appropriately nervous, yet the performances didn’t quite mesh with the script. It often felt rushed and jumbled; a few awkward silences would have played dividends.

The director, Madeleine Perham, deserves a lot of credit. Creative direction kept the show going, with a wonderfully effective use of minimal set and simple yet striking lighting. I particularly enjoyed the choice of music for scene changes, which helped create an atmosphere in an otherwise slightly barren production.

Overall, Somebody Out There Loves Me was disappointing: partly because, with a bit more work on characterisation and chemistry, the performances could be much stronger, but mostly due to its strong premise not reaching its potential.


Tess Davidson

at 10:03 on 23rd Aug 2015



The premise of Somebody Out There Loves Me is simple – dating apps are the future of romance, whether we like it or not. It is a theme deeply relevant in society today, the rise of Tinder and the recent Ashley Madison controversy revealing the true extent of our obsession with the online dating experience. The production company Peculiar Spectacles had great potential with the premise, providing an opportunity to explore the gritty underside of romance. Yet sadly, they failed to fulfil this, instead providing a slightly disordered portrayal of the world of Kindlr and all of its failings.

With a cast of five, it was enjoyable to see the ability of the actors being put to the test, with many of them playing several parts throughout. Christopher Evans's script was sadly a disappointment, paper thin characters meant that whilst the audience wanted to connect with them, it felt forced and at times, rather contrived.

The most natural cast member was Sarah Wright in her role of Alex, refusing to succumb to the lure of over-acting like some of her fellow companions. She was comfortable on stage, and this reflected in her performance. It was refreshing to also see themes of bisexuality being explored, albeit in a slightly rushed manner, the subtle inference that there was a deeper connection between Alex and her best friend, Laura. I was particularly struck by Jay Jivani’s portrayal of this situation, and I only wished the script had explored this further.

A mention must be made for James Salsbury, whose onstage presence was fantastic when he was exploring the awkwardness of dates, his gauche mannerisms an uncomfortable reminder of our own dating mishaps. Evans provided an opportunity for the audience to identify with many of the dating scenarios, I only wish he hadn’t succumbed to the desire to create humour, for this diluted the authentic nature of these identifiable situations.

This was particularly noticeable in the exaggerated portrayal of Kindlr, an attempt at irony that was let down by a lack of plausibility. On the production side, lighting and sound made up for a weak dialogue, the team making effective use of the facilities available to them, alternating between a softer and harsher light, thus increasing the interrogative undertones of the script in relation to our own love lives.

As a fan of linking contemporary issues into new writing, I wanted to enjoy this production, particularly as online dating is universal. Yet sadly, an over-dependence upon questionable humour and overly simplistic premise left the audience feeling dissatisfied at the end. A shame for a production that had a great deal of potential.


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