Writer: Ian Hallard
Director: Khadifa Wong
A comedy that makes all the right moves, Adventurous explores a couple entering the world of online dating.
Rosalind (Sara Crowe) and Richard (Ian Hallard) meet over Zoom in April 2020. The first lockdown is well underway. Logging onto madeinheaven.com, Rosalind seems more unsure of herself – she struggles with the technology. In a neat observation, this is before the ubiquitous “you’re on mute” even became a thing.
The first awkward questions get their back-stories confirmed. Richard (who describes himself in his profile as ‘sensitive’) is a history teacher – recently separated, with three kids. Rosalind (who chooses the unlikely adjective ‘adventurous’) is finding her feet, after spending years caring for her disabled sister. Crowe does a great job of portraying someone used to spending too much time alone, too many thoughts unvoiced. They almost come tumbling out, as she and Richard get better acquainted. As the dates roll on, they dive a little deeper. Rosalind and Richard discuss PM Boris Johnson’s near-fatal brush with Covid. Richard is a little more conservative, eager to see the best in people. Rosalind freely admits she is not impressed with the PM’s leadership; Richard finds his jolly persona endearing.
The play, written by Ian Hallard, uses observational comedy with strokes of light and shade. Rosalind’s quiet, rural life has left her unexposed to some aspects of modern culture – she fails to get the joke when Richard refers to aubergine emoji. But Hallard is quick to avoid clichés – Rosalind then explains the intricacies of the music download chart to her bemused date.
The laughs are big and bold here – Richard’s clumsy faux pas, and a takedown of TV historian Lucy Worsley – hint at a couple starting to bond. We meet them again in August, this time for a date in real-life. Rosalind frets about the complexities of Covid hygiene protocol, while Richard orders champagne. As Rosalind downs the drink, we see darker elements of her personality emerge.
This is a comedy that makes the most of what it’s got. Filmed in a very static way to mimic webcam footage, Adventurous relies on characterisation to drive the story forward. As Richard and Rosalind, Hallard and Crowe develop a gentle, steady chemistry. This relationship may not simmer with the unspoken lust of a Brief Encounter, but the layers of comedy – full of wordplay and misunderstandings – are beautifully judged. For all the awkwardness and hesitancy, Adventurous proves that romance and friendship can, even under the oddity of the pandemic lens, feel comforting and instantly familiar.
Available here until 28 March 2021