#INSTALOVE

Fri 4th – Sat 26th August 2017

reviews

Chloe Moloney

at 01:17 on 8th Aug 2017

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‘#INSTALOVE’ is a hilarious interactive show, where the audience is invited on a whirlwind of a dating experience. Catherine Duquette is a flawless improviser who transitions from her prepared monologues to riffing off the audience’s reactions seamlessly. However, this is not merely a laugh-out-loud comedy; a social experiment laced with anecdotes and life stories is what makes this production shine so brilliantly.

The four personalities which the audience are invited to date are Kat, Kate, Clare and Kris. At the end of each round, the audience votes off the least appealing character until only one remains. The personalities range from the more introverted gamer to a raunchy and ballsy party girl. Surprisingly the latter lasted until the final rounds of the production, with her forward and eager attitude fitting well with the night’s audience.

The audience participation was certainly on another level to that of other productions at the Edinburgh Fringe. Duquette gently coaxes people on stage and poses more intimate questions, gradually getting people to open up and pour out aspects of their lives which would have otherwise remained behind closed doors. The degree of audience involvement ranged from the absurd to the personal, with one man being asked to get on all fours and act like a dog and one lady cautiously revealing what had ended her last relationship. Regardless of these two ends of the spectrum, Duquette carefully put audience members together in a successful attempt to draw out the glittering threads of what makes people tick. One element which particularly stands out is a form of question tennis, where two members of the audience ask each other fiery and daring questions and if the partner likes their answer, they take a step closer towards each other. It was so utterly refreshing to hear the tastes of other theatre-goers regarding something which is not frequently discussed. Deeper and more thought-provoking questions were posed, such as whether we thought ‘the one’ was indeed a valid figure. With a show that relies so heavily on the willingness of the audience to get readily involved, this production does so with grace and thought-out skill.

The only difficulty lied in a little confusion as to the specifics of the voting process, where a few participants were unsure as to what was exactly required of them. This minor blip was however completely pardonable, as the humour of ‘#INSTALOVE’ brought potentially uncomfortable spectators into a circus of romantic hilarity. If you want a show that’s going to push and pull you in unexpected and electrifying directions, with genuine roaring laughter and tenderness, then ‘#INSTALOVE’ is where you are going to find it.

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Darcy Rollins

at 12:19 on 8th Aug 2017

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People look for romantic partners who hold qualities that they value most and try to hold themselves. For me, honesty, openness and just a little gentle mocking are key. If the same saying can be said for shows, I think '#INSTALOVE' by the charismatic Catherine Duquette is the one.

'#INSTALOVE' is 50 minutes of improvised joy in the format of an interactive dating show where Duquette embodies 4 different women and we, the audience, decides which we want to date in a series of votes. This is a spoof re-enactment of a dating show in the format's purest and most cringe-inducing state. Duquette's four contestants are themselves stereotypes. There is sweet, earnest Kate who beams from her eyes to her toes. Sexual Cat who veritably prowls around the stage locking eye contact with audience members and moving her Mick Jagger-esque hips. Super chill and deep game creator Kris was a tad more subtle but still excellent. Sophisticated Theatrical type Claire was eliminated first, and that I can't really remember her defining features may have been the cause of her romantic downfall.

I was very impressed by just how convincingly Duquette became these different personalities. Duquette's physicality is remarkably impressive. Kate's stance was far more tightly-wrung than loose-limed but assertive Cat. I particularly appreciated as it showed Duquette's range, Kris being far more mellow than the 'sweet' and 'slutty' energetic polar opposites of Kate and Cat.

Duquette moved seamlessly between clearly more prepared pieces and improv with both as hilarious as the other. The other audience members felt very similarly as ten of them partook in dating game scenarios, such as a speed date. In one of the most hilarious scenarios, two audiences members face each other and ask questions from a card. If they like the answer, the step forward towards their potential love interest, if not, they step backwards. An element I adored in this production was just how much the audience got into it, facilitated skilfully by Duquette, with many revealing personal details about themselves. An elderly gentleman sitting in front of me particularly loved it, engaging in conversations with Cat who would remain completely in character throughout any exchange. I myself ended up confessing, with little prodding from Kate, that I believe in the one but feel I shouldn’t. This confession experience added to my enjoyment of the show as Kate fluidly improvised a response, creating a sense of bonding with the rest of the room. I don’t think I was alone in this feeling as when more of the audience answered personally the laughter in the room grew and grew. It should be noted audience participation is something I normally stare at the floor to avoid.

My only criticism was that an attempt at a heartfelt speech towards the end didn't land for me after all the hilarity. Although it was sweet and quite touching, it didn't hit me hard emotionally.

Throughout this show I couldn’t stop myself from laughing. Not because of sympathy for a performer earnestly trying, not because everyone else is laughing but because Duquette’s performance was warm, mocking and genuinely funny.

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