It's Complicated

Tue 12th – Sat 16th June 2012

reviews

Marion Pragt

at 11:17 on 13th Jun 2012

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Daniel (Matt Lim) is looking for something exotic. A long-distance relationship, he figures, would do the trick fine, providing the romance and pleasures of love without awkward daily meet-ups. Yet he soon finds himself involved with two girls at the same time: Jessie (Emily Dance), the ‘perfect girlfriend’ from across the Atlantic and Dutch Wilhelmien, or Willy, (Maria Pawlikowska) who lives closer and is thus simply more convenient.

It’s Complicated by Daniel Henry Kaes entertainingly reflects relationships in the age of social networking, something still little explored in contemporary theatre, which is one reason to applaud this play. Having come close to Jessie in some ways through their continuing conversations, Daniel realised other things that couples normally know about each other remain hidden to them because of the distance, illustrated by his sudden discovery after months together that Jessie owns a cat.

‘This is not a real relationship, this is just an ongoing conversation’, Jessie realised, and Daniel happily concluded that living on two different continents means one is not together after all, however many Skype dates one has. Thus, when Jessie paid Daniel a surprise visit, he left her locked in his cupboard and set out to meet Willy, whose accent wasn’t quite Dutch (trust this heavily-accented, Dutch reviewer), but who was a delight to watch nevertheless.

As one expects, Daniel is finally left alone by everyone, even by his own thoughts which are read out by a voice-over throughout the play - an idea that worked well at times, especially when brought into the dialogues, creating a Woody Allen like atmosphere. Daniel danced on his own while the lights faded, reminiscent of the ending of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, where Thomasina and Septimus waltzed away.

The acting was very good and especially the play’s women - Jessie and Willy but also Daniel’s roommate Jo (Olivia Emden), who gave an energetic and admirable performance – stood out.

However, what could have been an interesting, modern take on romance in the end hardly went beyond the cliché with frequent exclamations like “all men are the same” and “all men are dicks”, showing perhaps that with social networking all has changed and yet everything is the same again. Indeed, it is telling that the plot’s decisive events did not take place over Skype but in real-life London when all characters accidentally met each other.

It’s Complicated is very entertaining, but one leaves the theatre feeling a little unsatisfied, as the play that began so promisingly ended up stating the obvious.

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