Abigail Bryant reviews Blackcatfishmuskateer at Summerhall, Edinburgh
21st century romance is fruitful territory for science fiction and general reflection on modern society’s values. Malaprop Theatre have managed to create an original, unique and very stylish play about online dating that stands apart and gives the rom-com genre a thought-provoking and insightful twist.
Blackcatfishmuskateer explores closeness at a distance, and the ways in which we define love within a digital culture where memes and Wikipedia links are the gestural equivalent of flowers and serenades. Adam and Zadie meet through a dating app, and instantly connect through their passion for words, philosophy and Ireland. Zadie lives in London though, and so meeting in person is logistically (and emotionally, as we soon discover) difficult. Catherine Russell and Ste Murray are perfect as our cyber couple, each verbally expressing their messages through believable, relatable and endearing interactions. The star of the show, however, is Aoife Spratt, who personifies ‘the internet’ as a kooky and gloriously expressive character that dissects and interprets the memes, GIFs and links being pinged across the stage with hilarious literality. Although the concept is a little abstract, it works perfectly as a fun humour device and as an animated expression of the human emotions that words and emojis alone can’t deliver.
Blackcatfishmuskateer feels relevant, cool and revolutionary in its creative take on what can be a cliché genre. At times, the complex use of language and statistical theory becomes difficult to keep track of in this format, but the intelligent humour, stylish aesthetics and slick pace will leave you wanting more and more long after the lights go out.