Ed Fringe 2019: Algorithms at the Pleasance Courtyard
Sadie Clark is a multi-faceted talent. Her play Algorithms is an impeccably polished piece of writing, charting the hopes and disappointments of single life with warmth and unassailable humour, and Clark herself brings the story alive as the star of the one-woman show. She’s a confident, winsome presence, effortlessly peopling her world with a crowd of characters.
Our protagonist Brooke works at a dating app company where the science of matchmaking can be reduced to a mathematic formula. In the real world, she’s floored by the loneliness of modern life, from the betrayal of the two blue ticks that signal an ignored message to the taunting onscreen evidence of happier lives going on elsewhere.
Algorithms was developed on Soho Writers’ Lab, a nine-month playwriting programme led by Soho Theatre, and it’s clear that the piece has been given time to breathe, with each little callback, character trait or reveal fully earning its place. The result is a collection of acutely observed moments and lovingly realised characterisation. One brilliant analogy – about rubbish sex being like getting a bad haircut – is a perfect example of the funny and dark dichotomy of Clark’s writing. You can see that the hairdo is looking terrible but it’s too late to ask the hairdresser to stop now that they’re halfway through, so you just grin and bear it and resolve to sort yourself out later.
Clark plays Brooke with generous warmth. She invites the audience in to share her happy moments with an impish smile, and treats them as her confidante during the not-so-happy times. She slips naturally into a host of other characters: her irate ex-girlfriend, her condescending mother, her sneering boss. There’s firm eye contact with the audience throughout, and Clark even gets them to sing along to her karaoke at the end.
This lovely play is like a conversation with a friend, and leaves us sure that, if there is an algorithm for happiness, we’re not alone in struggling to work it out.
Photo: Ali Wright
Algorithms is at the Pleasance Courtyard from 1st until 26th August 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Read more reviews from our Ed Fringe 2019 coverage here.
For further information about Ed Fringe 2019 visit the festival website here.