D’Animate’s new play Love Lab is the play that feels like the love child of Black Mirror, Big Brother and Tinder. Arguably one of the most aesthetically pleasing fringe productions I have had the pleasure of viewing in a long time, this two-hander takes place in the all-white “love lab”; a space designed by television execs to match two people together by forcing them to spend time in each other’s company without the influence of external forces. Occasionally stimulated by the voice from above, the solitude forces each of the two participants to learn more about each other.
In terms of design, Love Lab is flawless. The all white space, combined with the minimalist costume, reminiscent of prison uniforms gives the play a neutrality that it leans on so heavily. What really sets the piece above the usual bar in terms of production design is Jack Channer stark yet dynamic lighting design which truly gives the space its boxed-in claustrophobia.
“the love child of Black Mirror, Big Brother and Tinder”
Whilst the performances here from Michael Rivers and Harriet Barrow are solid and truthful, the relationship between the two at times feels a little stilted which could benefit from development without the constraints of a restrictive runtime. Similarly, Love Lab makes an attempt to attack a number of issues including fame-seeking, technology and the truths behind the human connection. All of which are valid lenses to look at the play through but, again, there does feel like there’s an awful lot going on. There are certain sequences in the play that seems somewhat irrelevant. Again, they could make for interesting character development but in one hour it’s too much to try and grasp at. When so much of this play’s writing is top quality, I hope it’s next staging gives it time to breathe.
Overall, there’s little to complain about here and my own complaints aren’t truly directed at the production itself but more so at the runtime and the restrictions that puts upon the play. There’s more to rave about than anything. Love Lab has some great comic moments, well-timed and executed dark strands and a design that really puts the icing on this stark and bleakly funny cake.
Love Lab is now playing at the Tristan Bates Theatre in Leicester Square until the 18th August. Tickets available here.
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