Tuesday, July 23

Banging Denmark – Finborough Theatre

A fun, modern take on a romcom classic with a sociologist twist…

Management consultant Jake Newhouse (Tom Kay) enrols super-duper feminist Ishtar Madigan (Rebecca Blackstone) to help him seduce the gorgeous, Danish, and totally unreceptive librarian of his dreams (Maja Simonsen).

Now here’s the rub. Newhouse also goes by the name of Guy DeWitt, a powerful, misogynistic dating coach, pickup artist and deep voiced podcaster who recently sued Madigan for defamation. Unable to prove DeWitt sent his bros-before-hoes trolls out to destroy her reputation, her mental health and her mailbox, Madigan was forced to sell everything she owns to pay the settlement agreement.

She now sleeps in the copy room of her university, a shadow of her glorious self – an alcoholic, paranoiac, horny PhD scholar with no money and only 3 months to turn in her thesis on female sexuality in video games. She, of course, has no idea who Jake really is and cannot resist for long the revolting amount of money Jake throws at her in exchange for her help.

Another impossible romance completes the picture, that of Denyse (Jodie Tyack), Madigan’s friend and occasional bodyguard, and her lovelorn, beta best friend Toby (James Jip).

Beautifully paced, the uninterrupted 100 minutes of this Sally Woodcock production truly fly by, like a well-oiled Hollywood romcom set in Fleabag land. It is full of priceless one-liners, steamy moves, and acute observations on the pitfalls of modern dating. It does take a couple of scenes to really get behind this hormone-raging lot. But once the charm operates, we are all ears and tears (of laughter).

The triptych set allows characters to come in and out of each other’s world – DeWitt’s man cave faces Madigans’ refugee camp while a mid-stage library counter separates the two ideologies and serves as a pedestal stand for the untouchable Dane.

Written by Guardian columnist Van Badham and first performed in Australia in 2019, Banging Denmark feels relevant and so refreshingly non-didactic. The wit is irreverent, relentless, yet neither sacrifices psychological reality nor indulges in cheap sentimentality. The all-but-one RADA cast is solidly convincing, making this production a delightful night of banter, seduction and tax humour.

Playing until 11th May, https://finboroughtheatre.co.uk/production/banging-denmark/

Reviewer: Klervi Gavet

Reviewed: 18th April 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.