Still Seeking Other is cheesy in all the right ways. A rom-com centred on a matchmaking agency (it's slightly more com than rom, but hey, romance is technically a sub-genre of comedy), it introduces four unlikely/all-too-likely pairs and follows them over the course of one blind date. It's humorous, heartwarming, heartbreaking (but only a little), and, most importantly, it's a lot of fun.
Monica Zanetti's writing is sharp and snappy. She has a real pizzazz for one-liners, and it showed. The opening sequences are heavy on the stichomythia, and some technical difficulties clearly made the actors uneasy, which affected their timing and delivery. Once the technical difficulties were fixed, however, it flowed freely and the script really began to shine. Zanetti has a natural flair for comedy and character that I hope to see more of.
Zanetti's character, a 25 year old virgin desperate to lose her virginity, and her date partner, a sex addict (Paul Barton), were my favourite of the four pairs. It was perhaps too easy to tell that they'd be paired up - it probably would have been a little more affective if the audience was more surprised - but the banter between the two very different and yet utterly similar characters was hilarious. It would have been easy to make them both caricatures, but I think Zanetti succeeded in giving them more complexity than their sexual status.
The classic ‘good' characters (Adam Gibson and Chiara Gizzi) were less fortunate in the complexity respect. The conflict between them felt a little forced at times, purely because they were both overly good people, so being difficult felt a bit out of character. On the flip side, their happy ending was genuinely satisfying. However, the most satisfying happy ending of allbelonged to revenge-seeking lesbian (Rosie Lourde) and closeted gay high school boy (Allister Chick). The fact that their relationship was so profoundly un-romantic had me rooting for them all the more. The rapport and eventual camaraderie between them was really natural, and I came away hoping that they both got exactly what they wanted.
I was unsure, however, about the final couple, the ex-con (Jake Lyall) and his ex-wife (Olga Assabgy). The reason he was in gaol was because he hit her, which made it genuinely uncomfortable when they were paired up by the unwitting matchmaking agency. I was very glad that the arc for these two was decidedly not romantic - it was an ending, not a beginning, about forgiveness, not love - but honestly, I wanted Assagby's character to walk out of the date as soon as she got there. The two actors both gave layered, sensitive, sympathetic performances, but it still struck a bit of a sour note.
I particularly want to commend the music. Ketty Ellen's compositions were wonderfully atmospheric and I wish there was more of them and her in the show. They were a little overpowered at times by the too-small, too-squeaky set, but they were too lovely to ignore and they absolutely shone.
Overall, I really enjoyed Still Seeking Other. Any show that includes the line, "I'm still not reading Twilight - that shit's for wankers", automatically has my heart. Make this one part of your Fringe.
First Feet Ventures presents
Still Seeking Other
By Monica Zanetti
Dates: 13-16 September, 2012 (extra performance 23 September, 2012)
Venue: King Street Theatre