Tinder has a lot to answer for. Of course, there are countless dating apps and websites on the market, each with their own specialisms and nuances, but in the world of 21st Century dating, Tinder cornered the market – certainly for heterosexual and opposite sex relationships. Inevitably, as with all human social interactions, most of us have our fair share of embarrassing Tinder date stories, cringeworthy DM chats or awkwardly disappointing bedroom exploits that could never match up to the fantasy we create in our mind’s from a person’s polished dating profile. Things have been made all the more difficult in the world of dating and casual hook ups with COVID restrictions – the ever changing etiquette around intimacy and bubbling is more confusing than an episode of Lost. So it was oddly and nostalgically comforting to slip into the pre-pandemic world of Flipside Production’s new comedy, Cut Bait.
Written by Pippa Thornton, and performed by Maia Tassalini, Cut Bait follows twenty-something Nina through the trials and tribulations of her Tinder fuelled sex life. Following a hilariously surreal encounter with posh premature ejaculator, Hugo, Nina finds herself re-examining her relationships with family, lovers and, most importantly, her own intimacy. With flavours of Bridget Jones, Fleabag and Chewing Gum, this one woman show ponders the highs and lows of women’s sexuality, the worst dregs of sexist single men and the supreme awkwardness of approaching your thirties.
This is a superbly realised piece of comedy. Thornton’s writing is slick, barbed and painfully self aware, while Tassalini’s performance sores with the rich comedy gold the script offers up. Tassalini is electrifying to watch, with her seamless switches into the numerous characters that inhabit Nina’s life executed to perfection. The characterisations of Hugo and a sickly yoga instructor particularly strike a chord, with Hugo appearing like a puffed up Made in Chelsea reject and the yoga instructor feeling like a character straight out of Schitt’s Creek. Every gag lands with assured confidence, and their levity bring light to the shades of brief inner reflection. Running at around an hour, one almost feels bereft as Nina’s tale draws to a close, but with its perfectly timed shock ending, Cut Bait is like a beautifully wrapped gift of a show that hits all the right spots in just the right places.