You had me at “sinister American cult leader” and “dating show”. Everything about this show set itself up to be unique, enjoyable, and chuckle-worthy piece of theatre. And it is. The platform is familiar; office-based comedy where the humour comes from conflicting personalities of the beleaguered employees. That’s only the platform, from there the production takes the already ridiculous world of reality TV and pushes it to it’s logical extreme with cast of lovable and hateable characters either rolling with the madness or being comically bewildered by the whole thing.
The script is strong but, like its sister production, The Shakespeares: Scenes from a Marriage, it drags a little, and struggles to fill its runtime without being laboured or repetitious. It could easily be condensed to an hour without losing much, and might pack a better punch for it. The cast too, is very solid. Beth Davidson as Pippa, and Romy Goodman as Victoria are more the excellent in the leading role, serving as brilliant comic foils to another with a wonderful and hilarious chemistry. Davidson particularly has a deep reservoir of comic talent. This dynamic is only further complimented by the quiet, nervous energy of Alice Pelan as Cathy, a character I defy anyone not to find at least a little adorable. The final member of the cast, Jamie Adams as cult leader Chuck North, brings a disturbing and beautifully nonsensical zest to proceedings that drives scenes and dialogue in a eccentric and unpredictable direction. Each member of the cast disappears entirely into their part and delivers consistently on each line from beginning to end.
I sometimes questioned whether the pre-recorded sections where necessary (even if the brilliantly mustached reporter did always make me giggle) but honestly I’m still in debate with myself about that. The execution was a little clunky but I feel their presence may be necessary to help drive the plot and establish certain conflicts and elements within the piece organically.
Once again, a piece that could benefit from a little script and pacing work but for the most part is an enjoyable and commendable show at Fringe this year.