Swipe Right’s 2 become 1 returns with familiar nostalgia, matching current fashion trends. The 90s are back and, in this instance, at the Kings Head. A fun musical to pull us all into a pop-sical time warp with an hour long performance of back to back tunes. Not a production to raise substantial awareness yet for entertainment value, 2 become 1 is worth seeing for its cast. A strongly developed team, delivering effective performances.
Jess (Natasha Granger) has been dumped. Clinging onto the bathroom floor, she weeps her sorrows into her bathing robe – that is until ‘her girls’ arrive. Whisked away to speed dating, each character projects their desires with a pop number. Various styles, from acapella, spoken word to a full blown ballad, whichever form, they never cease to amuse.
Granger’s collaboration with co-star Kerrie Thomason who plays Molly reveals a highly energetic musical picked up by The King’s Head production team. It is evident why: they’ve unashamedly highlighted gender specific antics that society may deem unacceptable. Yet despite this reinforcement, what about women who don’t fall into these stereotypes?: those who live life as leaders, those defining we’re not all Sex and the City cut outs? If there is a message hidden to comment on 90s women, an extended version may clarify curiosity.
Thomason and Brady’s direction reveals distinct characters. Jessica Brady’s Amanda particularly, whether in group scenes, or during solo moments, puts claim to 2 become 1, propelling the story into comical brilliance. During the Celine Dion number, she engages vivaciously with the audience. Succeeding with directing a person onto stage re-enacting the famous Titanic scene. Not only does Brady entertain, her vocals and likeability increase moment by moment.
Collectively the dance routines and individual personalities are visible at all times. Eliza Hewitt-Jones portraying the blond haired seductress at times comes across clichéd yet never do the four falter, revealing excellent onstage chemistry. Thomason predicting Scotland’s aim for independence and Granger’s attraction to Tony Blair is an excellent example of using dramatic irony, something rare in new plays.
Alix Rainsby’s design has kept the stage simple with metallic reflections, a flashback to local clubs scattered in most hometowns and paired with Clancy Flynn’s lighting, the stage on whole provides all sorts of rumination, whether it’s pop music or pop music with alcopops.
Swipe Right Theatre Company’s target audience however maybe limited. It has been expressed: 2 Become 1 is inspired by the music they grew up with and the dynamics of their favourite girls bands, therefore Granger and Thomason’s musical taste is understandable. Yet the play lacks diversity.
Multi-cultural friendships is nothing new, something evident also in the musical collaboration of Spice Girls and All Saints, therefore it’s disappointing that in such times, diverse casting in this case is invisible. This extends to the songs chosen, with only a couple of African-American girl band tunes and popular dance anthem Show me Love. However it is certain that most people of the target age range will leave with some memory of their teenage years.
2 become 1 either confirms that feminism has made a comeback or it ridicules the ideology of that decade. Or maybe its something completely different: a play for commercial purposes. Something to enjoy on the weekend before heading out. Something that uses irony to confirm the dating rituals of this decade. Either way something worth seeing to stir that 90s nostalgia.