REVIEW: Love Lab (Tristan Bates Theatre) ★★★★

Love Lab is a short play written by Sam Coulson at Tristan Bates Theatre as part of Camden Fringe 2018. The one act play explores our obsession with our screens and comments on how social media and reality TV is affecting our pursuit for true love, asking, “in a society of screen dwellers, can we connect to more than just the WiFi?”

The play was inspired by a 1967 experiment when Professor Arthur Aron succeeded in making two complete strangers fall in love. It became known as “The 36 Questions” and gave birth to the blueprint of modern dating.

Harriet Barrow and Michael Rivers are Livia and Perry, two very different people looking for love. Livia is a blogger with a huge social media following, Perry is a carpenter who barely uses his mobile phone. Love Lab, a new dating show has thrown them together, in front of an international audience to see how far they are willing to expose their inner secrets to find love.

Love Lab covers a lot of ground in a short hour; the set is a small white room lit from above with harsh strip lighting that blacks out to show time passing. The voice of the unseen Administrator fills in the gaps and helps the audience understand what is happening and why these two people are locked in a room together. Barrow and Rivers do a good job of keeping the story moving to its surprising conclusion. This show has shades of Black Mirror about it as it presents a future not too far from our current reality of TV dating shows and online dating apps.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans


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