Sunday, September 24

Strategic Love Play – Soho Theatre

Dating in this day and age seems to be getting harder and harder, what with less natural ‘bumping into someone’ and more organised ‘meet ups’ with your fingers crossed that a spark lights and then you can finally relax because you’re back on track. ‘Him’ and ‘Her’ (Archie Backhouse and Letty Thomas) find themselves in a pub with two pints and both completely willing to make it work. But it doesn’t, she makes it difficult admitting that she’s unlovable and all she asks is for him to not lie. He, confused then of course lies and says ‘you’re great’ but I think I’m going to leave. Somehow she convinces him to stay. The next hour takes us through a whole evening of deep, truthful conversation ending with a contract of what ‘this’ is. They agree to be like those old couples holding hands, completely done with each other at this point but from stubbornness, they remain.

A mundane situation that forces truthfulness and brutality out of its participants, it’s hilarious, beautiful and we leave with heartbreak. Both actors fight for this piece with electricity, for each other, for their characters and it’s completely powerful. Such a quick-witted piece, designed by Rhys Jarman all taking place on a small spinning table and a large lamp that pours out beer- the perfect date spot really.

An absolute hit at Edinburgh Fringe this year and I can really see why. Miriam Battye, writer and previously known for ‘Scenes with Girls’ has an Olympic understanding of deeper human emotion and rather than solving them, celebrates complication that we dig ourselves into. The writing feels fragile and vulnerable with brutal humour that everyone who experiences London in their ‘20’s’ will surely relate. Katie Posner as director complimented this piece perfectly, keeping things all in one place, moments that felt like a tidal wave was passing over me and suddenly jolted back into real time with ‘Her’ as she crumbles in the embarrassment of her own destructive behaviour.

A beautiful piece, moving, hilarious, devastating. Sometimes it’s wonderful to watch two people suffering at the hand of love because haven’t we all?

Playing until 23rd September,

Reviewer: Alice Rose

Reviewed: 9th September 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.