- Deborah Chu
- 4 August 2019
One-woman show about a bisexual heroine of the Bridget Jones school
It's a familiar story: a young woman, approaching the threshold of the dreaded 3-0, sees her love life go into a tailspin when her girlfriend dumps her. Compounding her heartache, she works for a dating website, programming the algorithms that help others find love in cyberspace. Throw in a domineering mother and plenty of opportunities for public humiliation, and it seems no rom-com cliché will go unturned in this hour.
Thankfully, Algorithms is self-aware enough to wink at its adherence to these tropes. The heroine Brooke discusses how films like Bridget Jones's Diary have been formative in her expectations of love, but is savvy enough to note how toxic these influences have been to her notions of body image and self-worth. These issues have only intensified in the age of Tinder and Instagram, and provide plenty of material for Algorithms to explore. Unfortunately, the play's conclusions – that social media is bad for our mental health, and that there is no formula for a happy life of genuine human connection – don't exactly tread new ground, especially when there's so much that could have been mined about the complex, evolving reality of living in the digital age.
Luckily performer Sadie Clark has charm in spades, and embodies a host of characters with ease. Brooke's evolving relationship with her mother is genuinely touching, and a moment that explores the particular kind of fear that women in same-sex relationships face in public is especially resonant, suggesting a great deal of potential embedded in the show's code.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug (not 13), 12.45pm, £8.50--£11 (£7.50--£10)