'Looking For Fun?' - A Review
This Fringe, Edinburgh is once again inundated with performers eager to display their hard work. The sheer volume of comedy, music and drama on offer can be overwhelming for audiences keen to see the best the fringe has to offer, and Looking for fun? A Queer Manifesto Against Grindr certainly stands amongst the best of this year's offerings.
Starring Conor O’Cuinn and directed by Tazy Harrison-Moore, Looking for fun? is a one man show that charts the agonising experiences of a young gay man navigating the turbulent world of online dating. The creative duo presents an enlightening and often harrowing depiction of toxic hook-up culture in the gay dating scene. From poppers to PrEp, sexual assault and visits to the sexual health clinic, Conor O’Cuinn delivers a damning exposé against Grindr.
His dynamic performance of a nameless man is characterised by isolation, authenticity, and longing for human connection. As O’Cuinn commands the entirety of the stage accompanied by only a chair, he creates a deep intimacy between the audience and the self-proclaimed ‘twink’ he portrays. With the minimalist staging, sound designer Martha Barrow and lighting designer Freya Game have the perfect canvas to showcase their abilities, facilitating a seamless transition between scenes. Expert manipulation of both lighting and sound effectively encapsulates everything from the chaos of nightclubs, to the discomfort of sexual health clinics, to the seediness of a stranger’s bedroom.
Throughout the play, moments of violence and abuse are visceral and inevitably uncomfortable but are dealt with profound care and sensitivity. In a hard to watch scene of sexual assault, the lights dim, the sound softens, and O’Cuinn grasps the chair tightly from behind – an impactful performance of struggle. When the lights are raised, he rises, gazing into the audience with wet eyes and a sense of defeat that portrays genuine emotion. In the bravery in this performance, O’Cuinn strikes the perfect balance between explicit and authentic.
Despite the sensitive nature of the play, the audience is offered many moments of relief. The script is full of wit and personality, and O’Cuinn’s clever variety of accents adds to the hilarity. From pillow-talk with an older gentleman from New Zealand — “Funny. I’m allergic to Kiwi’s”— to a crush on a rigidly heterosexual, threesome-loving, football-fanatic Scottish barber, O’Cuinn’s performance is full of comedic encounters.
Looking for fun? is as funny as it is heart-breaking. Expertly crafted and confidently executed, this powerful performance is a credit to the passion of the creative minds behind it.
Looking for fun? can be found at Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49) between the 8th and 13th August. Book tickets here!
You can listen to us chat to Conor and Tazy about Looking for fun? at The Broadcast here.