Deranged Dating at 2014 Orlando Fringe
Deranged Dating, the one-woman comedy from award-winning South African writer/performer/stuntwoman Shirley Kirchmann, reinforces the adage "wherever you go, there you are" by demonstrating that dating is equally awful no mater which side of the Earth you are on. At age 35 and perpetually single, Kirchmann recounts her humorously horrid experiences on bad blind dates ("they would make you wish you were blind"), crazy computer encounters and miserable matchmaker-assisted meetups.
Kirchmann begins with some really clever commentary on this universally understood subject, performing an interpretive dance to the five stages of breakup grief (Denial, Longing, Denial again, Epiphany and -- most satisfyingly -- Rage) and recruiting a male audience member to clean up the stage as a "social statement." There's also a welcome splash of local color, as she explains the difference between Cape Town stoners and Brakpan rednecks.
Unfortunately, the bulk of her act devolves into a string of standup one-liners that would have sounded well-worn a decade ago; perhaps comedy trends still take years to cross the Atlantic, like music and fashion used to. Stop me if you've heard these before: Men won't listen to driving directions, fairy tales foment unrealistic romantic expectations, women spend lots of time grooming, Camilla Parker Bowles looks like a horse
yadda yadda yadda.
Halfway through, Kirchmann conjures up a couple of kooky characters with grating voices and dime-store wigs, bringing any fun to a grinding halt. And while the preview performance I attended suffered a few forgivable technical flubs, long costume changes and an extended sequence of short blackout scenes permanently punctured any sense of momentum that this slow, shapeless show may have built.
Based on pre-event press materials, I pegged Deranged Dating as one of my top five international picks of this Fringe. Oh well, you can't pick 'em all. Kirchmann may well be correct when describing herself as "quite a catch if you've got a f**king strong line," and I admire her ambition in bringing this show across the pond. But based on the ratio of grins to groans I experienced, I can't advise crossing the festival lawn to catch her act.
Kirchmann Productions - Alberton, South Africa
Length: 60 Venue: Brown Price: $11 (+svc. Charge)
Disc.: FV | STU | SR | MIL
Rating: 13+ - Mature Themes