First published in The Herald.
CARRY on loving. That will be the message to emerge once Rishi and Liz have stripped each other bare and ravaged each other, in a political sense of course, because we all know that in a few weeks they’ll be sitting cosy comfy holding hands (figuratively) on the soft green leather seats of the House.
But what of the rest of us, desperate to feel loved, given the new economic reality, Latin American levels of inflation and the fact Neighbours is coming to an end?
Well, at least we can experience the feeling vicariously.
Irish writer Gillian Duffy has come up with a brand-new play which evokes those days when dating was so much simpler, a gentle nod in the direction of film cult, Carry on Loving, in which set Sid and Hattie operate a dating agency, where clients were matched by filing cards pulled from a plastic box.
“A great friend of mine from college, a mature student, heard an ad on the radio in Ireland about a matchmaking agency, where you go to meet them, have an interview (of sorts) regarding yourself, your life, your personality, what you would like from a relationship etc, and the agency then matches you with another person…you have three arranged dates as part of the fee,” says Gillian.
“It appealed to my friend because she doesn’t use social media; didn’t feel comfortable sharing information online; and hadn’t been on a date in over twenty years, so she felt like she needed some help.
“So much of modern dating is done online, but not everyone is comfortable with that, or feels confident enough to take that approach, so my friend went with the matchmaking agency…though some of the matches were very unsuitable, and not at all what she wanted, it was a good experience for her, and her search continues…”
It gave Gillan the inspiration for the play, Two’s Company. Maureen (played by Carolyn Calder) is just out of a broken marriage, she is a single parent, and she has reached a crossroads in her life – she wants to set up her own business, to do something that will make her happy (and hopefully bring some happiness to others too), and after some soul searching, she decides to set up her own matchmaking agency, specifically for those who don’t want to do online dating…but the agency goes viral, and she receives requests from all ages…from all parts of Scotland.
Duffy’s Two’s Company certainly kicks the very idea of love algorithms in the hard drive. It’s the story of Maureen Parker, a hopeful romantic who happens to be 55, twice divorced and single.
Yet, ironically Maureen is also the owner of Two’s Company Matchmaking Agency, a new Dating Service for those who prefer ‘a more traditional approach’ to finding love.
The writer explains; “Maureen’s been in the business of love for over thirty years, long before texting, swiping and poking became obligatory, but her ‘clients’ are more likely to be on Warfarin than WhatsApp. And the only posting they’re doing is sending their dating disasters into Maureen’s weekly Advice Column in the hope of some romantic rescue.
“As Maureen comes to terms with spending another weekend with a bottle of Pink Gin, Alexa’s Top Ten Tearjerkers, and a pile of lonely hopefuls even the tide wouldn’t take out, she receives an enquiry which rings a few unexpected bells; her first love, Michael, the one who broke her heart, is back in town – and he’s looking for a date. With her.”
Does Maureen want to see Michael again after all these years? Can she bear to meet him for a coffee in Glasgow, back to where they first met? Will she be out of that café faster than a Scotland Cricket committee can hand in their resignations?
And, more importantly, is Maureen ready to stop looking for love for others – and grab some of the action for herself?
The storyline will certainly resonate with an audience of a certain age. Who hasn’t, at some point, reckoned we have missed out on the person we adored when we were younger?
Who hasn’t rewound back to the days when our first love was gorgeous, fun and in every single way perfect?
And of course, the heady winds of time have dusted over the list of reasons why we split in the first place.
Two’s Company features Still Game’s Matt Costello as Michael, Maureen is played Carolyn Calder, who wowed theatre audiences in comedy monologue, 51 Shades of Maggie and Una Ailsa Macnab is Beatrice, Maureen’s mum.
The Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh, August 3-28 (not 15), at 5.30pm.