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Nastazja Domaradzka

Review: HOW TO DATE A FEMINIST at The Arcola Theatre

How To Date A Feminist Down on one knee, ring box in hand, Steve is about to propose to Kate but before he pops the question he simply must apologise toher for the patriarchy and its oppression on women; because Steve is a feminist. This is the opening scene of Samantha Ellis’ HOW TO DATE A FEMINIST a hilarious and intelligentromantic comedy which is now back at The Arcola Theatre. Feminist or not, everyone should make their way to Dalston to experience Ellis’ brilliant writing, full of fresh ideas andinsightful questions.

Kate (Sarah Daykin) and Steve (Tom Berish) are not a perfect match. Although Kate, a journalist who adores Wonder Woman is no doubt a feminist, Steve, a vegan and son of a Greenham Common activist is quick to prove to her that her ideas are pretty shallow since no self-respecting woman should find Emily Brontë’s Heathcliff attractive. But Kate can’t resists those “bad boys” who grab her and pull her hair. In fact most of the men she dated before Steve were either cheaters, alcoholics or manipulative actors specialising in puppetry. Hence when her new boyfriend starts asking her about her wants and needs Kate finds herself confused and indeed quite lost. More questions arise as the audience gets to meet Kate’s dad and Steve’s mum, and the ideas of parents imposing their beliefs on children are questioned.

Both Tom Berish and Sarah Daykin are a pleasure to watch. Multi-rolling in a comedy genre can often result in actors portraying caricatures but this is not the case with HOW TO DATE A FEMINIST. Matthew Lloyd’s directions are simple and concentrate on creating the truth of the moment whilst ensuring that the Hollywood style comedic moments prevail. Daykin is an incredibly natural and charming actress which makes Kate a very relatable character whilst Berish’s stage presence and versatility is pretty hypnotising. There are plenty of captivating moments in this production and as characters enter and exit, it’s quite easy to forget that one is watching a two hander.

HOW TO DATE A FEMINIST is production that raises many valid questions about contemporary relationships and our ideals and principles. Like any good theatre it doesn’t offer solutions,letting the audience think for themselves. If only more writers out there were like Samantha Ellis we wouldn’t have to worry about rom coms dying out. Quirky, brave, truthful and clever HOW TO DATE A FEMINIST is a must see.