Perfect Match (review). Anne Cox hops on the dating merry-go-round

We’ve become suckers for new technology. Crazy people queue for days for the latest mobile phone, overheard conversations (usually among men) are all about the latest must-have gadgets, and in the field of science and technology there have been quite scary advancements (do we actually want a machine that can tell us when we’re going to die?)

Wednesday, 25th September 2013, 2:14 pm
Perfect Match. Photo by Robert Day.
Perfect Match. Photo by Robert Day.

So would we take the bait if someone invented a super-duper Internet dating computer program that could name and locate your perfect partner? It would, for a fairly substantial up-front fee, trawl the world’s computers, snooping through trillions of private accounts, to compare personalities and, ultimately, match-make with a 100% success rate.

It sounds great. Why bother with all that romance stuff if a machine can take the hard work out of dating?

But what if you’re already married? Or living with the person you thought was your soulmate? Would you ditch your seemingly perfect life for one with a stranger that has been picked by a computer?

That’s the premise of Perfect Match, Gary Owen’s cracking new play for Watford Palace Theatre, which premiered last night.

It’s one of three especially commissioned productions, appearing in rep over the next few weeks, which look at how technology has wormed its way, like a virus, into love and relationships.

Take two couples. Joe and Anna have been together for nine years. He’s finally got around to popping the question but the next day Anna does a runner – to Stevenage.

Aaron and Lorna have notched up six years of seemingly idyllic bliss except, when push comes to shove, Aaron, the pig, fell out of love pretty soon after things got serious and has not had the guts to tell his girlfriend. Instead he has had a series of meaningless affairs, culminating in his meeting Anna.

Needless to say neither wronged party takes it particularly well when they find out that ‘Aaron-and-Anna’ (“It doesn’t work!” wails heartbroken Joe, “It sounds like a speech defect!”) have been brought together by “the magic love machine” at a cost of £800.

What follows is a series of scenes as each couple attempts to cope with the new sleeping arrangements. Lorna confronts the despicable Aaron (I’d have castrated him. I don’t know how Lorna kept so restrained) while Anna has the nerve to ask the devastated Joe to give her away at her rush marriage to her new fiancé.

I really felt for Joe (beautiful heartfelt performance from Ken Nwosu). He is pretty sure Anna (Kelly Hotten) is “The One” and is unable to hide his shock and disappointment that a computer has said “no”. Lorna (Eva-Jane Willis) has her own showdown, but garners less sympathy – probably to do with the verbal diarrhoea she suffers throughout (role playing - really?).

Tom Berish’s Aaron appears to have been so swayed by the match-making introduction service that he’s prepared to turn over a whole new leaf… well almost. There’s still Stevenage (you’ll have to see the production to find out the relevance!)

Perfect Match is a very modern, and very funny, take on the dating game. It’s also a bit of a teaser and gives plenty of food for thought. I think quite a few of us might be tempted – but it’s a given that George Clooney is mine!

Running until October 19.

Also premiering this week is EV Crowe’s Virgin, the second play in the Ideal World trio. Override, by Stacey Gregg, opens next month.

For tickets and information call the box office 01923 225671 or visit www.watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk