BWW Reviews: BAGGAGE, Arts Theatre, September 10
One of the main themes of Baggage is internet dating - but it also explores friendship and relationships founded on chance meetings. It is conceived by two college friends and draws on their personal experiences and has also been developed through others' experiences in the world of internet dating.
If it is closely autobiographical then one college friend is admitting to some pretty big faults and character flaws. The character of James is a frighteningly realistic serial internet dater who breaks women's hearts without a thought for their feelings and whose only aim is getting them in to bed.
His friend Adam is the nice guy whose marriage hasn't worked out and isn't ready to start dating again but who has no choice when James sets him up on a website.
Charlie De'Ath as James made a great switch from arrogant oaf with his friend to absolute gentleman during his dates.
The two female characters have a similar relationship – Geraldine is another serial online dater who is completely obsessed with herself and the colour green and only looks at men's money, status and designer clothes. Suzanne Shaw has a real stage presence and spits out her fickle and often shocking lines, at once a characature and a very believable hideous creature.
Geraldine's friend Sandy isn't interested in dating but again, is forced in to it and suffers dire consequences.
It's a light but thought provoking play, which could have delved deeper and given us less tangents and connections between the four characters. A lot of the scenes are quite punchy, just getting in to a rhythm before leaving you guessing what would have been said next.
This style matches the characters' approach to online dating – short, often explicit messages that could lead to a potential date. The play can only give a glimpse of four people's experience of online dating and it does leave you with a fairly negative feeling about the sort of people you may meet online and the risks that people take in pursuit of finding a partner.
Between scenes some statistics are flashed up, including how many couples have met and got married after meeting online so it's easy to expect a more encouraging story. Instead, be prepared for the fickleness of our generation, where, thanks to the internet, no one is quite as they seem.