Nicky and JoJo make a cute pair. They are adorable and their earnest search for love completely wins the audience over. I found myself squirming in my seat with delight as they struggle to show each other their insecurities and confess their feelings through awkward flirting. It’s hard for actors to create natural chemistry at the best of times, but in an improvised situation it’s particularly impressive.
Hogg’s commitment elevated her performance to the next level. She drinks from an imaginary glass of sparkling grape juice, then puts it down on her chair. She sits down on that same chair, disappointingly forgetting about her prop and breaking the illusion. It would have been easy to just let this go and hope no one noticed, but when Hogg realises her mistake she leaps back up, screaming that she’s sat on the grape juice. It’s hilarious, charming, and makes me respect her performance all the more.
Dick is charming as Nicky. She exudes natural warm and her performance feels authentic. She also hits us with a couple of biting one liners that demonstrate her quick wit.
Powell is also excellent as Cupid. He leaps agilely between characters, bringing freshness to each scene he’s in. One of the highlights of the show is a rapid fire presentation of Nicky and JoJo’s previous failed dates. Powell performs as a teenager who wants JoJo to buy him wine, a gambling addict and a pretentious wine connoisseur. The scenes are funny, lively and perfectly timed.
I wasn’t expecting to get any genuine romantic wisdom from this show and was pleasantly surprised when it delivered. Powell gets the audience members to offer advice to nervous Nicky, and self-doubting JoJo. We tell Nicky to take a leap of faith, and remind JoJo that she is loveable. These are things we all need to believe a little more often. There’s real warmth and compassion from the audience, a testament to how much we care about these characters.
At times I did find the show a little sickly sweet. We see a couple of Nicky and JoJos dates, the second is heavy on cheesy expressions of affection, in the vein of ‘I think xyz is cute’, ‘well I think you’re cute!’ The third date ends with ‘the L word’. I wanted to see a little more turbulence - Nicky and JoJo’s first fight, meeting the parents, or an expression of real insecurity that didn’t end with ‘you’re so cute!’ Without a bit of conflict, the final scene feels a little unearned. Although, maybe I’m too cynical. Cupid’s Guide to Modern Romance bills itself as a heart-warming, silly meet-cute story, and it completely delivers. If you want painful and messy romance, you can find it somewhere else.
Cupid’s Guide to Modern Romance is polished, hilarious and super cute. I hope that we’ll see a return season once covid settles down because this show deserves to be seen by more people.
Cupid’s Guide to Modern Romance is playing at BATS until the 6th of March at 8.30pm. You can book your tickets here.