|Rachel Gordon and Yalin Ozucelik|
Outdated written and directed by Mark Kilmurry. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney, March 5 – April 17, 2021.
Previewed by Frank McKone
Cast: Rachel Gordon as Olivia and Yalin Ozucelik as Matt
Designers: Set & Costume – Simon Greer; Lighting – Kelsey Lee; Sound – David Grigg
Outdated is very much up-to-date. A romantic comedy for our times, beautifully executed by Yalin Ozucelik and Rachel Gordon in a two-hander which requires absolute precision timing and detailed movement.
It is not entirely laugh-out-loud because, as Shakespeare might have put it, the course of true dating on this fictional (I assume) You+Me app never did run smooth. Both Matt and Olivia reveal their middle-age insecurities in a highly amusing somewhat satirical exposé of those who daily change their profiles to attract new dates: including one who lied about how old he was online to Olivia, but turned out when she met his family to be another ten years older even than that. Rachel captures Olivia’s mixed feelings perfectly; as does Yalin when he finds that Matt has accidentally seemed to unfeelingly leave Olivia at the worst moment.
I’ve used the actors’ first names here because the quality of their dialogue and action immediately made me feel that I knew them personally. The writing is especially interesting because Mark Kilmurry has the characters say out loud their internal self-critical dialogue, almost as if they are speaking to us directly, in amongst their actions and what they say to, and privately about, each other. The resulting blurring of the ‘fourth wall’ draws us in, and we find ourselves often laughing along with Olivia and Matt even as they are making us laugh at them.
The title Outdated could have several meanings – perhaps even that dating online is a risk or even a kind of scam which people seeking to resolve previously failed relationships should not trust. Perhaps we should not accept a romantic ending. But for this couple a kind of inevitability grows, through all their vicissitudes.
In my ‘I know all about theatre history’ mode, I thought of Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man and how Raina comes to realise that Captain Bluntschli, the chocolate soldier, is the right man for her; not the superficial conventional sword-waving Sergius she is expected to marry. And then I thought of friends, in their 40s like Olivia and Matt, whose online dating has turned out to be the right thing for them.
Arms and the Man has been a popular success now for one hundred and twenty-seven years. Here’s to the future for not so Outdated romance and comedy. And make a note for yourself as you book at https://www.ensemble.com.au/shows/outdated/ . Mark Kilmurry ends his program note : “And special thanks to my wife Jacqui for the idea of a jogging scene – she was right.” My wife Meg was also right when she said this is the funniest scene. Going to the Ensemble is like being with family – not to be missed.