Maverick Life

Theatre review

‘The Dead Tinder Society’ — romping through the cloud in search of true love

‘The Dead Tinder Society’ — romping through the cloud in search of true love
Sharon Spiegel-Wagner is excellent as newly divorced Jody and Mpho Osei-Tutu dances on as Ray, her best friend, confidante and drinking companion in ‘The Dead Tinder Society’. (Photo: Wessel Odendaal)

In this light-hearted look at dating disasters, Ashleigh Harvey has created enjoyably fresh material in the theatrical equivalent of a chick flick.

The Tinder dating app was theoretically created to help people find true love, but it’s proved more effective as a source of meaningless shags and fertile material for comedians.

This makes it far more useful and broadly appreciated than its original intended niche.

The latest spin-off is The Dead Tinder Society, a new play by actress and writer Ashleigh Harvey about a mid-thirties divorced mother taking the plunge again.

This light-hearted look at dating disasters (are there any other kind?) sounds similar in vein to the play Violet Online and the recent comedy Tease!, but Harvey has created enjoyably fresh material in the theatrical equivalent of a chick flick.

While the overall premise is familiar – a woman unexpectedly looking for love again despite the career and kids accoutrements – Harvey’s smart and sensitive writing steers clear of tired clichés and déjà vu.

It’s the biggest strength, of course, is that it’s so relatable, with a high proportion of society having gone through a split up and trying to get back in the dating saddle.

Sharon Spiegel-Wagner is excellent as newly-divorced Jody, starting out by talking directly to the audience in a style that’s funny, engaging, sweet and sassy simultaneously. She pulls wicked faces when she mentions “the other woman” in restrained but physical comedy that enhances her delivery.

Then Mpho Osei-Tutu dances on as Ray, her best friend, confidante and drinking companion, who encourages her to dive back into the fray with Tinder.

It’s all a long, regrettable way from the days when women were courted and wooed, she laments, but gives it her all, and we’re soon laughing at sexual references that are tastefully funny.

Director Lesedi Job has them moving nicely, giving the play a rhythm and flow as characters come and go. As Jody swipes through profiles on her phone a projector screens various faces behind them. I’d love to know if these are real profiles, or if the team managed to persuade a rogues gallery of dodgy dudes to pose especially for the pictures.

Osei-Tutu is loveable as Ray, and anyone fortunate enough to have a friend like him will particularly appreciate his character. But his lack of convincing accents means he’s representing the Tinder dates like Sven or Avi rather than believably becoming them. But that’s fine, because this is frothy entertainment where they can get away with it.

The title is loosely inspired by the movie The Dead Poet’s Society, which has a theme of being true to yourself and rebelling against the conformity the world expects. There’s not a lot of that deeper meaning in here, but it’s a catchy title.

In fact, despite the subject matter’s possibility for leading you down an interesting emotional road of recrimination, regrets or deeper analysis of relationships, the show never ventures there.

The disaster of a cheating husband, imploding marriage, juggling two kids and a job and numbing the pain with wine and weed are all treated with humour, with no maudlin moments or deeper insights.

That doesn’t feel like a major lack, it just leaves The Dead Tinder Society pitched as an enjoyable comedy, despite teasing you with the potential to dig a little deeper. Would that work any better than sticking with the froth? I suspect it would, and it could give the production longer, stronger legs and more of those intriguing depths that some daters love to dig for. DM

The Dead Tinder Society runs at Montecasino’s Pieter Toerien Studio Theatre until 25 August 25. Tickets from Computicket.


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.8% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.2% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.2% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.2%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options