Thursday 25 October 2018

Tinder Tales - Musical Review

What: Tinder Tales
When: 24 - 28 October 2018
Where: The Loft, Chapel Off Chapel
Written by: Mattie Mcleod
Composition and musical direction by: Thomas Bradford
Directed by: Clary Raven
Performed by: Thomas Bradford, Amy Cumming, Paige Easter, Gordon Li, Tom New, Ashlee Noble, Francesca O'Donnell, Edie Testro-Girasole, Callum Warrender, and Anna Wilshire
Choreography by: Kirra Sibel
Design by: Rachel Mclean
Lighting by: Jason Crick
Stage managed by: Kyra Von Steigler
Francesca O'Donnell, Tom New, Ashlee Noble, and Eadie Testro-Girasole
Tinder Tales is an energetic new musical being performed at Chapel Off  Chapel this week. A micro interogation of the online dating world Mcleod, with a lot of help from the musical stylings of Bradford, takes us on a Tinder journey which is perhaps more of a nightmare than it is living the dream.

Tinder is regular comedy fodder in the cabaret scene and there are at least two other musicals about the subject (Tinder! - The Musical and A Tinder Musical) but there is still more than enough laughs in this "love at first swipe" generation to play with the idea some more. The trick is to find a unique hook - or do it better.

Macleod's story follows Abby (Testro-Girasole) in her Tinder search for the "perfect for her" guy. Despite being plagued by Insecurity (O'Donnell) and Doubt (Noble) Abby manages to leave the house and meet up with Evan (New)...and hook up on the first date. After sex Evan admits he's not looking for anything serious and the awkward exit ensues.

One of the hilarities of Tinder is the surveys you can send. There might have been a bit of a connection between Evan and Abby - at least Abby thinks so. Evan casually invites her to a party, and thanks to the help of her two constant companions she drinks too much, kisses the wrong guy and...well... you all know where this is going, don't you? Not even another Tinder survey can save this sinking ship.

The performers are all very high caliber and cover the gamut of musical theatre training in Australia which is impressive (VCA, Monash, Griffith, WAAPA, APO, Federation) as well as a couple finding there way up 'through the traps' as they say. Noble is probably the strongest singer although Easter (Mum) gives her lungs a run for their money! Testro-Girasole is perfect as the lead though. Her voice has a wonderful range and a lyrical quality. It is still developing in strength, but what it lacks in volume at times, it more than makes up for in tone and versatility.

The rest of the cast double as minor characters and voices in Abby's head. Warrender has a wonderful comic persona which revels in playing mutiple supernumerary roles with flare and attitude.  New is also perfectly cast as Evan - sweet but not a pushover.

I really wanted to like Tinder Tales more than I did. Bradford's music is catchy and fun crossing styles similar to the work of Eddie Perfect. The actors were all lively and invested and the three piece band was full of attitude.

My problem was in the writing. Whilst I liked the concept of Insecurity and Doubt, Doubt in particular was mean and crass and incredibly unlikeable (no reflection on Noble!). The constant degradation and insults thrown at Abby from the voices in her head became awful to hear rather than funny. There was more than one time in the show when I heard the audience gasp in shock or moan in disapproval.

The songs generally bypassed most of this flaw and there are some great tunes including 'Love And All Your Wicked Ways', 'Perfect For Me', and 'Survey Song'. Unfortunately there was also 'Dick Is Dick' which was just too far on the wrong side of the crass line.

I enjoyed Sibel's clever and economic choreography in a very tight space, and Riven has done a good job with moving the cast around and keeping the space dynamic. Whichever one of them made the decision to have Warrender trying to force Wilshire to perform oral sex at the end of one of the routines should think seriously about what they are doing though. Not okay at all! - And definitely not funny.

Tinder Tales is only 70 minutes long so despite the flaws it is a good showcase of some serious musical theatre talent bubbling up in melbourne and bodes well for the industry. Mcleod needs to find a way to make her humour less overwhelmed by her pain and cynicism though. We won't laugh if we don't like the characters. It is good to have a moral or a point of view in the work but this may be a case of the right story being told in the wrong art form perhaps.

3 Stars

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