REVIEW: Would like to meet: Rialto Theatre

February 12, 2016


“Would Like To Meet” is a new play written by Christine Kempell and Hilary Handel about the trials and tribulations of dating in the digital always on on-line smart phone hook up app world, with a collection of true life dating adventures, amorous disasters, embarrassing speed dating scenarios and some eyebrow raising  statistics all blended together into this engaging and entertaining evening.

The plot follows the adventures of  Ally  who is looking for love before she gets too old to Tinder. We take a look at Liz who longs for a night of naked Jenga. David loves Grindr but has terrible taste in men and can’t stop the grind. Keith the loser thinks he’s Tom Cruise. Janet seeks solace in a drawer full of chocolate. We’ve all met them, or see them and the play explores their story. It covers a wide range of romantic searches, older people, gay men and love, single, divorcees and all the current apps which facilitate sex, dating and occasionally romance.

The cast of  four talented actors were enthusiast, convincing and engaging and they were a pleasure to watch. Sophie Dearlove in her confessional tour de force about deadpan, downtrodden dreams turned sour was very funny and the audience loved her. Laura Tindle dipped into slightly darker territory with her story of self-delusion and mounting desperation bringing a convincing and cringe worthy recanting of some of the most awkward romancing I’ve heard in a long time. Neil James and Stuart Barham were both good but with less chance to delve into the depths of the male dating experience. I felt the best material (and insights) went to the female parts in this play, the audience was certainly happy with that as it was more than 75% women, interesting in itself, but they enjoyed themselves and the laughter built during the second half .

The lighting worked well in the space and changed the focus of mood and staging effectively and the large back screen filled in some change time with some not too distracting facts and cosmopolitan type statistics.

Director Kerren Garner has kept things quick and snappy, this gives the show a kind of flick left, flick right feeling matching the content perfectly, if you don’t like the look of  the anecdote, there’s another on its way.

For an opening night it was tight, good and the actors very quickly settled down after some initial bombastic nerves. Over all the performances were convincing although it’s worth a mention that the gay male part is reduced to a clichĂ© of best friend to the fading lush, a dancing neutered childish-clubbing-last call sperm bank, which grated slightly from a play that seeks to be so candid about heterosexual on-line dating we get so little candid recanting from the recognised leaders in the field – gay men – who other than having a hell of a lot of sex, have built up some insight (and coping strategies) into the brutal hall of mirrors that is App romance and pursuit. One small criticism as this was written to play to the humour of these real life experiences.

Writers Kempell and Handel obviously know the territory but also understand the importance of finding the message, the humour, the thing that makes it all worth while, and often – with a British female audience –  that’s the resilience that comes from being able to share disasters and know you’re not the only one. In a world where it can seem you’re competing all the time for an ever diminishing resource, this play reminds us that we are all in it together, it’s got a warm beating romantic heart and just goes to show that cynicism is the romantics condom.

The Railto is great fun, compact and warm space, with a dedication to producing new material from local writers and directors, it’s a town center alternative with a comfortable, very chic Art Deco bar (great wallpaper..) . Some of the tables in the Theater are set out in a cabaret style which makes everything feel very laid back and confessional .

There is an interactive website-( where audience members are encouraged to leave their own stories, with the possibility of getting your stories worked into the constantly evolving plot.

Great fun and certainly a funny alternative to watching bickering couples desperately trying to enjoy the over prices clichés thrust at them by the cities hoteliers and restaurateurs.If people are tired of overpriced Valentine themed evenings WLTM offers a completely different night out but still based around laughing at the complexities, silliness and situations we find ourselves in on the rocky road to love.

For more info or to book tickets see the Rialto website here

Plays until February 14, 2016.

Would Like To Meet

Rialto Theatre, 11 Dyke Road, Brighton BN1 3FE