Review: Love Pings by I AM

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I AM tackles the frenzied, anonymous modern love of Internet dating.

Hong Kong, 2017. Much like every other metropolitan city out there, the yuppie citizens spend their days in offices and spend their nights at hip bars and nice restaurants. And like every young, ambitious person, one eventually stops to think: is there more to this life?

Meet Jane (Heather Cooper), a typical office drone who’s living a pretty comfortable life. There’s one thing missing though: she’s single and very much available, and she’s looking to change that. But who’s got time for old fashioned dating when there’s so many things to do, so little time? The solution is Internet dating of course. Kate March’s Love Pings addresses the dodgy world of Tinder and other dating apps/websites, and charts Jane’s based-on-a-true-story adventure through a series of Whatsapp conversations and accounts of the men in Jane’s life.

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Love Pings played in a small space with minimal setup. Consisting just a few chairs and two couches, the set was dead simple, and created an intimate setting for the audience to really get to grips with the script and storytelling elements of the show. As Jane narrated the details of the day, she whipped out a phone and begins to “text”, speaking the messages out loud and dramatizing the online conversations she’s been having. Of course, she’s not alone in this, and she’s joined onstage by a total of 6 actors who play 7 different men that she’s attempting to juggle with each other in between work, food and sex.

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Love Pings is direct in its approach, literally dramatizing the Whatsapp conversations Jane has, showing her and the man on the other side’s expressions and reactions to each new ping, giving a face to the anonymity of texts. The men she ends up dating form a collective of stereotypes that feel more than familiar to anyone who’s been out there in the dating world, many of whom come from the upper echelons of society.

Of her posse of eligible suitors, praise goes out to Dakota Dulcio, who played a suave, smart looking Frenchman who brought an air of debonair charm and the requisite French snootiness to the show. Also significant was Ralion Alonso played a rich, entitled married man embarking on an affair, and delivered on the charming bastard type character. Praise also goes out to Davina Lee Carrete who played an overbearing, hyperenthusiastic pilot who’d go just a little too far in her pursuit of Jane.

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The staging could get a little frenzied and hard to follow at times, with Jane holding multiple simultaneous conversations with the various suitors at a single time, jumping from one conversation to the next with barely a beat in between. However, in a sense, it did accurately portray the rate at which we do the same in real life, switching between apps to get as much done as possible and somehow keep up with everything that’s going on in everyone’s lives while getting ahead in our own.

Warning of the dangers of taking men at face value and putting our morals into question at times, Love Pings acts as a fun parable of the state of modern love and the thrill and perils of Internet dating and the Pavlovian response we’ve developed to the sound of a single ping dictating our every action. Stay tuned for the end where there’s an interesting twist to the whole story, but come for the roller-coaster ride and titillation of meeting new people and an an all too relatable story of modern love.

Love Pings will play at The Hive, Kennedy Town in Hong Kong on 12 and 13 May. Tickets and more information available here

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