Theatre review: BlackCatfishMusketeer | Love+

BlackCatfishMusketeer
BlackCatfishMusketeer
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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Playing in rotation with one another, these new plays by Dublin-based theatre company Malaprop each explore the human impact of new technologies in a manner that is as entertaining as it is in tune with the way in which our understanding of love is changing in the 21st century.

BlackCatfishMusketeer

Summerhall (Venue 26)

****

Love+

Summerhall (Venue 26)

****

Both are insightful, although the pick of the pair for those stretched for time is BlackCatfishMusketeer, a courtship revealed entirely through the interactions of a couple online.

Adam and Zadie meet on an online dating site after a whirl of bad matches are swiped past, and they go through every stage of a classic love story, from chance courtship, to identification and possible love, to breaking off their relationship through a bout of existential fear, before finally, tentatively approaching a reunion when they realise that no-one quite understands like one another. What’s interesting in this case, however, is that Dylan Coburn Gray’s play never allows the pair to meet; instead, they interact solely through the internet and snatched glimpses during nervous, abortive attempts at meeting in real life.

Catherine Russell and Ste Murray are a tender and relatable central pair, with Aoife Spratt playing the winningly eccentric third part of the internet itself, enacting every dense Wikipedia page, head-exploding gif and hedgehog in shades image the pair use as shorthand for communication, in what is a striking and memorable comic turn. It’s simply a great fun hour, but within this ­traditional story format, the piece weaves new and very insightful ideas of what love, trust and romance mean in the hyper-connected­ ­
modern age.

It’s a trick which Love+ also pulls to great effect, although this piece – devised by Gray and Maeve O’Mahony – has planed off some of the bravura comedy in favour of a more blackly humorous subversion of the love story. Russell appears again, this time as a woman who has bought an aesthetically realistic female robot, which she uses as a companion, housemaid and glorified sex toy.

It’s another funny piece, but more subtly so than BlackCatfishMusketeer, and the loneliness of Russell’s character, cut off by the fake connection technology provides, is expressed in more poignant and haunting fashion.

BlackCatfishMusketeer until 27 August. Tomorrow 7:10pm. Love+ until today, 7:10pm.