A dating game with interaction, monologues and connection. Nicole Acquah joins in the fun with Kiss Chase:

Kiss Chase at The Bunker is a part-verbatim, part interactive show about intimacy, romance and the everyday relationships between lovers, families and friends. The space is set up to resemble a speed-dating event. You are greeted at the door and handed a sticker with a number and a colour. You must then find the seat with your corresponding number, which also contains a piece of paper for scoring your ‘date.’

As people take their seats opposite complete strangers, there is an excited yet awkward tension in the room. I think there is an incredible magic to be found in the opening moments before the show begins, in the nervous energy permeating the atmosphere when nobody quite knows how the show will unfold, or just how much they are expected to participate in this interactive performance.

The lights dim and we are greeted by Jim and Ruth (Scott Patrick and Rayyah McCaul), the hosts of Kiss Chase, who explain they created the night to create a form of interaction in London, where social interaction can feel so far away. What becomes clear fairly quickly is that certain audience members are actually performers, and the show is structured through a series of games for the audience to play,  intercut with monologues by the ‘undercover’ performers.

There is certainly a nice surprise when it turns out the person you spoke to five minutes ago is actually a performer (Peyvand Sadeghian, for example, has a wonderfully touching monologue and plays it powerfully). However, I wonder if these ‘actor reveals’ defeat the purpose of the show? Kiss Chase seems to want to create fun and authentic moments of connection. And whilst I met some lovely people and had great conversations, these newly formed relationships couldn’t develop for two reasons:

Firstly, the audience quickly grow distracted by trying to figure out who is a performer and who isn’t. This creates a layer of mistrust and also a little predictability (we soon grow to understand that every eight minutes or so, our conversations will be interrupted by a monologue). It seems counterproductive – did we focus on our partners or did we focus on the drama unfolding around us?

Secondly, there isn’t much space to breathe or to interact with one another. Our conversations are practically handed to us (through pre-written questions, for example). For an interactive show, we weren’t allowed to interact very often. Sometimes Jim and Ruth would ask questions and encourage audience response. However, these questions are more or less immediately answered by their planted performers. Allowing these questions to breathe for a longer time might coax a few nervous audience members to participate truthfully.

Kiss Chase has great potential and does work as an enjoyable piece of theatre. Second Circle Theatre Company can make much more use of the connections they foster between audience members, and, much like in the opening moments of the show, allow these connections to unfold organically. In fact, the show will be more effective if it lasts longer.  It’s okay if there are pauses and it’s okay if there is nervous laughter. It’s an interactive show about speed-dating after all – trust your audience!

 

 

★★★☆☆

Kiss Chase runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays until 7 July 2018, one of the Breaking Out plays as part of The Bunker Summer Season. For more information, please visit the venue website.