Adventurous by Ian Hallard. Jermyn Street theatre on line to28 March 2021. 4****. William Russell

On line life in lockdown is delightfully sent up in this comedy of errors and identity by Ian Hallard which shows what happens when Sensitive, played by Hallard, meets Adventurous, played by Sarah Crowe, on an on line dating site – and it is not what you would expect. Neither is a mass murderer lurking on the web although Adventurous does, it turns out, pack a killer punch. The encounter is touching, funny and a little sad. Director Khadifa Wong handles it with the lightest of touches and the technical problems of on line theatre have been cleverly handled as the pair initially meet on zoom and, when things improve, socially distanced over dinner and then, as the friendship reaches crisis point, back on line. Hallard and Crowe have appeared at Jermyn Street before and play off one another perfectly, he is Sensitive, a history teacher who has bedroom problems and an estranged wife, she is Adventurous, a case of wishful thinking, being the spinster sister fated to care for an invalid older sister who has just died. Released she is on the prowl. It is a case of men beware women.
It is a first play for actor Hallard who last appeared with Crowe at Jermyn Street three years ago when Tom Littler staged Noel Coward’s Tonight at 8.30 plays and they play off one another perfectly. He is all slightly over the hill boyish charm coated with schoolteacher habits, she the spinster who is far less demure than she appears on the surface. He avoids issue, she speaks her mind and at the end of the dinner date, at which they have consumed a bottle of champagne and a bottle of white wine, is more than willing to invite him back for brandy which is not what one expects.
The plot is neatly constructed and it would be churlish to give it away, but when one goes on line and meets strangers it is wise for both parties, should they start confiding things, to remember there is also Facebook and one can search there for people mentioned in passing – and make contact with them. Ros, after a life constricted by her family’s problems, has found freedom and she is making use of it. Richard does not stand a chance, a fly caught in a spider’s web – although the spider does sort out some of his problems before proceeding on its own way.
The technical problems of such works are dealt with in exemplary fashion and the result is an hour well worth spending in intriguing company. One can only hope to see the likes of this back on the Jermyn Street stage as soon as social distancing rules permit. Adventurous is a witty tale for the times with something to say about the risks involved.
Tickets £15.
Running time – 60 mins.
To 28 March at 3pm – 7.30pm – 9pm.

Richard: Ian Hallard.
Rosalind: Sarah Crowe.
Jake:Jack Derges.
Esther: Florence Duncalf.
Jess: Elizabeth Hollingshead.
Lois: Katherine Jakeways.

Director: Khadifa Wong.
Designer: Jessie McKenzie.
Sound Designer: Matt Eaton.
Photographer: Don McKenzie-Cossou.
Sound Recording: Pietro Giordano.

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