Left – Bron Batten. Photo – Theresa Harrison
All for audience participation as long as it’s not you? Then you’ll love Onstage Dating, Bron Batten’s contribution to the Festival of Live Art.
Batten rather disingenuously opens with a short video of a series of vox populi responses to a photo of her; some of the comments are less than flattering so she already has her audience in a kindly frame of mind before she appears on stage. Batten is naturally funny, whether she’s making gags or not.
The clichés of online dating are pulled apart here and audience members are invited to share their horror stories of the very public world of RSVP and the like. A brae brave laddie, Cameron, volunteered to be Batten’s onstage date for the evening. Onstage Dating is a compelling show, tapping into our intense curiosity about one another and fascination with how attraction plays out. The famous 36 Questions contribute significantly to the night and the result is beguiling – the questions are intended to create intimacy through the bond of vulnerability (one woman presented an entire TED talk on this very experience). How would we be perceived if we were answering the questions in so public a manner? The questions element work beautifully in creating a lovely arc for the show: the more specific the answers, the more connected and involved we become.
Batten was lucky in Cameron, he was sincere and confident, a perfect date for the show. Twister also comes into it and the date ends up with both parties in bed. There are some raw notes along the way, Batten’s costume change towards the end takes a tad too long and the final scene is clumsy and goes wrong, it looks too much like a menstrual mishap and jars the show into something else altogether. However, that is easily fixed. This show will be perfectly at home in the Comedy Festival, it will be surprising if Batten doesn’t successfully tour this to all the comedy festivals.
Onstage Dating is a hilarous shared delight, with moments of poignancy and many reveals.
2016 Festival of Live Art
Venue: Arts House | North Melbourne Town Hall, VIC
Dates: 2 – 11 Mar 2016