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The Date - Melbourne Fringe Review

Home > Melbourne > Theatre Reviews | Theatre | Music | Festivals | Cabaret
by Aridhi Anderson (subscribe)
Aridhi Anderson is a theatremaker, performer and reviewer based in Melbourne. Check out her work at
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Preparing for a first date can be a real experience
Justin has had a crush on Malcolm for a while, and tonight they're finally going on their first date. He's excited but nervous, and his mind's racing at a hundred thoughts a minute. What if it doesn't work out? What if it does? What does he want from this date? Is he really ready to put himself out there? He rings his best friend Kristy for advice about what to wear and ends up pouring his heart out to her. Kristy is a great listener and helps draw out his feelings about this date - why he's nervous, why he's anxious, why he should be excited, and of course, what he should wear.

Dean Robinson in The Date. Photo credit: Sarah Bruce.
Dean Robinson in The Date. Photo credit: Sarah Bruce.

Over the course of their conversation, Justin reflects on some of the reasons why he's feeling so nervous and anxious - his past experiences in love. He's had fun casual encounters, he's been in healthy and committed relationships, but he's also been in toxic relationships where he's been manipulated and cheated on. Justin himself has changed over time in his own approach to relationships. Once upon a time, he was content to play around and even be a "heartbreaker", but he now he's looking for something more meaningful. With Kristy's help, Justin is able to articulate what he has found most valuable in relationships, what has been damaging/what he wants to stay away from, and what he wants to aim for now, going into a date with someone new.

Dean Robinson in The Date. Photo credit: Sarah Bruce.
Dean Robinson in The Date. Photo credit: Sarah Bruce.

The Date is a sweet, funny, and very likeable cabaret created by and starring Dean Robinson as Justin, and featuring Megan Scoyler-Gray as Kristy. The duo, together with their accompanying live pianist, deliver a spirited performance, including beautiful vocals in a great selection of catchy songs which suit the show's theme and style perfectly. The lyrics of these well-loved songs are very recognizable and are mostly in their original form, but feature some cheeky adaptations to make the songs more suitable for a gay context. For example in the song Oh My God I Think I Like You from Crazy Ex Girlfriend, instead of the words "Is there an IUD/that can stop the image of you and me" Justin sings "Is there a vasectomy/that can stop the image of you and me". The style of the songs is varied and is accented by expressive physicalization from Robinson, which makes for a pleasant and easy audience experience.

Dean Robinson and Megan Scolyer-Gray rehearsing. Photo credit: Grace Browne.
Dean Robinson and Megan Scolyer-Gray rehearsing. Photo credit: Grace Browne.

Robinson performs with conviction and is natural in his depiction of a range of emotions. He takes the audience along on his journey without ever breaking the fourth wall and creates some beautiful "aww" moments, such as when he sings Teenage Dream by Katy Perry (I want to say more but won't, because of spoilers). However, despite being a running theme in the show, anxiety is one emotion that is surprisingly not transferred to the audience. This, I think, can be attributed to the quietly powerful performance by Scolyer-Gray, who without ever moving from her little corner of the stage, soothes the audience as effectively as her character Kristy soothes Justin. Scolyer-Gray supports Robinson marvellously and enables him to bring out his character fully while providing the balance and contrast needed to make the big picture perfect. Kristy also has some strong moments of her own, such as when she says about her boyfriend that they're "more like friends with benefits, except that the benefits are feelings, and sometimes feelings aren't actually a benefit."

Dean Robinson in The Date. Photo credit: Sarah Bruce.
Dean Robinson in The Date. Photo credit: Sarah Bruce.

The Date is one of those shows that proves theatre doesn't have to be over the top to be enjoyable. It's a show that is creatively skilful without being complicated, it is informed without being pretentious, and is neatly resolved without feeling contrived.

This show is probably best enjoyed from the front rows, where you can see the full range of expressions on both Robinson and Scolyer-Gray's faces. To be honest, I'm not sure how much of Scolyer-Gray you'd be able to see at all from the back, given that she is seated downstage for the entire show, level with the front row. But where she sits is an important creative element of the show, so just grab a seat as close to the front as you can.
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*Aridhi Anderson was invited as a guest
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Why? Enjoyable show with great music
When: 24-30 September 2018
Phone: (03) 9660 9666
Where: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Pl, Melbourne
Cost: $27-$34
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