Listen To Me is speed dating as theatre, with the stated goal of attempting to tear people away from their phones long enough to make a genuine face to face connection with another human. In the Arts Court Studio, a total of eight ticket holders per performance are given a name tag and assigned a numbered table. Over the course of about thirty minutes, with helpful instructions from the emcee, participants switch tables five times, meeting five different actors with five different chances at attaining that goal.
You have to own a cell phone to fully participate in this game, though luckily everyone does. I actually never, ever have my ringer on so it’s a good thing they give you a bit of a hint on that one.
The challenge in reviewing such a play is that it is so personal; the experience will be different for everyone with the only constant being yourself, so in a way, you’re kind of reviewing yourself. Frankly, I bombed. While I am almost unfailingly polite to everyone I meet, I find it difficult to connect with anyone who has a prepared monologue. I kept feeling like I was missing some of the point but then I guess that sums up my interactions with most people anyway.
Frankly, I feel sorry for anyone who has to meet my dead-eyed après-work gaze. I wasn’t really sure if I was supposed to interrupt the flow of the actors all that much and in any case, I’m the kind of person who has to warm up a little before I’ll start sharing my deepest secrets and crackpot theories. And I only had the chance to get one drink into me. I sincerely hope real speed dating has drinks.
It was an interesting exercise and overall, I enjoyed it. I have never speed dated and this is probably the closest I’ll ever get. I can see the advantages over internet dating; you get to size up an actual human being; though on the down side, you cannot just swipe them away.
This night may have been a little skewed as I would have gone out with any of the adorable, articulate, freshly scrubbed actors, which I doubt happens at real speed dating.
Listen to Me is on at Arts Court Theatre as part of the undercurrents Theatre Festival. Three performances remain: Friday Feb. 19 at 8pm and Saturday Feb 20 at both 2:15 and 8:15.