Camden Fringe is back again, and will be showcasing 300 new productions across North London until 26 August. One of those is A Tinder Trilogy, written by Annie Jenkins. Described as ‘talking heads’ of our generation, Geri (Mollie MacPherson), Beth (Jonna Blode Hanno) and George (Laura Thomasina Haynes) each perform a monologue of around 20 minutes. The central theme, supposedly, is Tinder, that darned dating app that we millennials apparently love to use. Sounds great – a real opportunity to talk about the dating limitations of modern life, a bit like Lena Dunham’s Girls or Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag, maybe? I had high hopes, but sadly it didn’t quite hit the mark.
The cast, who by the looks of it were dressed head to toe in Urban Outfitters (think Reebok, massive gold hoops and oversized jumpers), muse on aspects of their lives. Geri on her recent abortion, Beth on some sexual exploration gone awry that triggered some unresolved past trauma, and George on her best friend finding love and moving out. The script had a few funny moments, and clearly emulated the silly, sprawling, meme-like humour of our age. But a lot of it, while aiming to be kooky, spiralled out of control and became completely random, and mostly irrelevant to the girls’ stories. An unnecessary anecdote about George’s friend performing oral sex on a mannequin that was wearing a Mr Bean mask, a story about Beth’s friend Cordelia trying to “force out” her period. Most of A Tinder Trilogy has little to do with actual Tinder. It doesn’t really discuss the app and what it means for dating today, but rather just accepts it as a vehicle through which people meet.
Blode Hanno is by far the most entertaining as the ‘coked-up’ Beth. I didn’t really want to laugh at most of it, but with her storytelling it was unavoidable. Slightly offensive (e.g. an anecdote involving a date with an autistic girl whom she implied shared the superhuman maths skills also possessed by Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man), but undeniably funny. Each girl’s monologue is injected with some tenderness by Jenkins, and there are very sad, very real moments that especially women will recognise.
It did, however, have a slightly Hettie Douglass whiff about it (if you’re not sure who that is, click here). We have these three middle class characters, from elsewhere but now living in Walthamstow and other gentrified areas of London, inexplicably using slang like “gassed” and finding eating in Greggs and watching Eastenders noteworthy or funny. George, after revealing she toyed with the idea of webcamming to earn some extra cash, exclaims in strong RP “I thought: mans gonna be rich!” and I cringed into another dimension. It doesn’t feel right, and brings up images of upper-middle class kids who move from Kent to Hackney, do unpaid internships, start chain-smoking roll-ups, pay £4 for a can of Red Stripe at Noting Hill Carnival and claim to ‘love Spoons’. I’m sure this wasn’t Jenkins’ intention, and I know this wasn’t what A Tinder Trilogy was about, but it’s terribly noticeable and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Class aside, Jenkins’ writing is funny, it’s just very out-of-touch in places, and a little ignorant. The show’s saving grace is that the girls all discuss something that, sadly, all women will go through at some point, rich or poor. It is by this thread that A Tinder Trilogy hangs, for me. The experiences of having an abortion, sexual assault, and the loss of a close female friend, are ones that are shared among women, and will sadly be inescapable for many. The poverty safari vibes, however, taint the otherwise enjoyable piece.
A Tinder Trilogy played at the Hen and Chickens Theatre as part of Camden Fringe until 7 August. For more information and other Camden Fringe shows, click here.