It seems hard to imagine these days that once up on a time, the only way to meet “a special someone” was at Fate’s hand. In the modern world, it’s extra romantic if it happens this way.
The Match Game takes our contemporary mechanisms for “finding someone” – speed dating and the internet – and throws in a reality show. We watch as the contestants meet, engage. Harking back to the past, contestants do actually meet each other off-line and randomly, but in the confines of a house where the game takes place.
The stage is set up as two rooms, a bed in each. At intervals lit with neon, the inhabitants of each room change; a new pair wakes up and each has the rest of the day to decide whether to spend the rest of their lives together. Are you my heart’s desire? It’s an old-fashioned notion, likely doomed for failure, but these young people are there of their own free will.
So they have no choice but to see just how well they do nothing together. Props are at a premium – one couple plays endless Scrabble (they don’t match). Apart from one vampy woman with weird white lipstick on, who tries it on with a too-frightened partner, they don’t resort to sex. Apparently they do really want someone that lights them up in other ways too… or maybe they just don’t fancy one another.
The conversations, though, are unmemorable. Perhaps everyone is responding to chemistry after all, and not detecting pheromones, don’t bother with questions of importance. (Are you tidy? Do you do the washing up? Do you want children? Will you eat my roast chicken?) Yet they seek that elusive “something”, believing the old myth that you will “just know” when he or she comes along – which, in the circumstances, seems rather a contradiction.
There’s nothing startling about this show. The characters are bland, inexperienced, unremarkable. The acting is okay if inconsistent. But one sees potential missed this time around: who are these characters really, why do they think they need to be there, and what do they think they are looking for?
Notably there are no single sex matches sought or found, which might be considered a flaw. Still, the play tackles a pertinent, debate-worthy issue, and spawns curiosity about the quest for the love of one’s life – or a life partner, as if they are the same thing.