A terrifyingly authentic portrayal of the awkwardness and obstacles we all face when sleeping with a new sexual partner for the first time. This double hander, which uses projections and recorded voiceovers to reveal the characters’ innermost thoughts, is comforting and worrying in equal measure as it worms-out the audiences’ deepest, darkest and most intimate anxieties and then broadcasts them to a room full of strangers.
Amy Butterworth and Thomas O’Connell, who play the new lovers, both turn in excellent comic performances that display impeccable timing and a warmness of character which instantly sets the steaks. A desperation for intimacy and approval is quickly revealed within the two and this is where the real comedy comes from – a will-they-won’t-they scenario where the audience are omniscient and the players are hopelessly tied up by their attempts to second guess what the other is thinking.
Whilst some of the comic beats are a little obvious (worrying if one’s pubic region may need some light, pre-coitus pruning, for example) they are played with empathy and wrapped up in a script that is so well structured that the pacing is never affected. The rhythm of the piece is only disturbed once by an annoyingly trite revelation towards the end of the second act but the script quickly trots along to the next stage of the courtship and keeps the tension strong and the audience enthralled.
It is also a huge relief to see a fringe show that uses the same high quality within its pre-recorded material and does not simply rest on the laurels of the onstage action. The short video clips that punctuate the live drama are of a fine quality and obviously take no small amount of inspiration form the work of Edgar Wright – quickly cutting and zipping around the onscreen subject matter and keeping within the boundaries of the carefully crafted pacing.
A Guide to Second Date Sex is hilarious and heartfelt but, due to its unbelievable accuracy, may leave you feeling somewhat naked afterwards.