Before there was Friends, the genius minds behind the popular sit-com collaborated with Wicked’s Stephen Schwartz to create Personals, the musical.
Personals is a fantastic comedy about all the different methods people used in the dating world (before tinder was introduced) and the obstacles they faced in doing so. The show takes place during a time where meeting the man of your dreams could come down to an advert in the personals, a blind date or a short video introduction.
Surprisingly, there does not seem to be much to compare to the sit-com – well, other than the loveable characters and the side-splitting laughter from the audience. A brilliant yet intimate cast of six – accompanied by a talented band – takes the audience through the whirlwinds of dating experiences through heart-warming yet hilarious stories. It says a lot about a cast who have the ability to effortless slip in and out of different roles, as this cast does and they manage to keep spirits high whilst doing so.
The show has a fragmented format without a really solid conclusion at the end. This is somewhat appropriate to the theme of the show as it moves away from the ‘Happily Ever After’ storyline and more into the ups and downs of the dating world. Many of the short scenes are disjointed in a way that resembles more of a television skit show than a stage musical. Nevertheless, there is a scene that everyone can relate to at some point or another. The second act follows more of a story line as the lead cast play out their successes or failures in love and life.
There are some bizarre concepts in this show such as the couple who accidentally begin a threesome with a dwarf they picked up or the two girl friends who are so bored with men that they decide to try being romantically involved with each other for a very short time. No matter what the scenario is, the gritty reality of pre-technological (and even post-technological) dating becomes a hilarious focus point throughout the show.
Perhaps the real lesson of this show is that the writers behind Friends can do it all. Since Personals comes from a pre-Friends era, who knows? Maybe this could have been the delightful sit-com audiences everyone would gather together to watch – it certainly lives up to it. There is a real strength to the way this piece is performed: the songs,, the characters and the storyline are all incredibly fun, but the more tender or dramatic moments are not overshadowed.
Personals plays Landor Theatre until 9 August. For more information and tickets, see Landor Theatre website. Image by Landor Theatre