There are at least 30 pop and RnB songs shoe-horned into the production of 2 Become 1, averaging one song every two minutes. For the quintessential 90’s child, that’s a stacked scoop of nostalgia – childhood memories of Pokémon, playing Snake on a Nokia phone and the mysterious world of the internet all surge back to the surface. Swipe Right Theatre Company and the King’s Head Theatre bring the decade that saw the birth of speed dating and the rise of Cosmo back to life in a light-hearted musical that can’t fail to leave its audience bopping along by the end.
Natasha Granger and Kerrie Thomason’s story follows a Sex and the City style group of four girls – Jess (Granger) has just been dumped by her perfect boyfriend and is understandably inconsolable. He sounded perfect, only asking that once in while she dress up as Mr Blobby and let him “take some downtime to Crinkley Bottom”… But her three girlfriends are on hand to make her feel better with speed dating – meeting new men and getting back in the game. Eclectic, alternative Molly (Thomason); flirty, feisty Charlie (Eliza Hewitt-Jones); decisive planner Amanda (Jessica Brady) and heartbroken Jess try their hand at telling both the men and each other what they really, really want from the opposite sex.
As the name suggests, 2 Become 1 draws heavily on the bubble-gum pop songs of the writers’ youth and as such is ultimately a tongue in cheek look at the single scene. For the most part, all actors strike a balance between observational comedy and self-deprecation, seeking to draw out their individual character flaws and accentuate these for audience amusement. There are a number of occasions when the overall delivery is over the top (that is to be expected in this kind of show); being wacky and wild works particularly well for Molly, who is never afraid to pull an animated face or act the loon. Amanda too is well realised, verging on desperate with her relentless pursuit of the perfect man, the perfect wedding and the perfect life. This goes down especially well when she breaks the fourth wall to serenade her beautiful bus-boy from the audience with Mariah’s Christmas classic. Charlie and Jess are capable too, but don’t land as many comic punches as the other half of their gang. As a constant reminder of the production’s inspiration, the girls go no more than five minutes without bursting into a female empowering diva performance, with all the enthusiasm of a Friday night karaoke, albeit with better vocal capabilities.
2 Become 1 ultimately works for the 90s generation that make up the audience because it is relatable. From crying over a man and ignoring the answerphone, to the slim pickings found whilst speed dating, to the greasy kebab and taxi journey back home, elements of the four girls and their antics echo in the majority of the single population. This is a comfortable show with the feel-good factor, appropriate for lovers of jukebox musicals and superficial comedy, but not for those who want an insightful exploration of highbrow material in their theatre.
2 Become 1 is playing the King’s Head Theatre until January 7, 2017.