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A Guide to Second Date Sex

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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In the swelteringly hot Soho Theatre, two 20-somethings flirt over a cheap can of lager and a mug full of rum and Irn Bru. Will their second date finish in a romp between the sheets or will they spend the entire night uncomfortably lying next to each other watching Cruel Intentions?

None of this would make it into your usual dating advice column but Laura (Amy Butterworth) and Ryan's (Thomas O'Connell) A Guide to Second Date Sex wrenches an hour of tightly packed comedy from such dodgy dating pratfalls.

Rachel Hirons' writing absolutely falls in with the wave of awkward British comedy - think Spaced, The Inbetweeners and Peep Show. It's especially like the latter with its pre-recorded voiceovers playing the thoughts of the two characters ("I definitely should have shaved", "This is going badly, I sound mental") and cringe-worthy short films from TEAfilms featuring the would-be couple's previous date. You'll be left hiding behind your programmes, squirming at the terrible chat-up lines and sexual tension.

The setting could not be better: upstairs in the low-ceilinged Soho Theatre, fully believable as Ryan's flat. With a late start and a hot room the audience is pulled into the train wreck of this disastrous yet endearing second date. Butterworth and O'Connell fire from the hip and everyone will find at least one opportunity to relate to their graceless fumbles.

The hapless pair keep us in fits of laughter and almost shouting out to the characters (I certainly heard at least one person loudly remark "Awkward!") in glee. It's frequently hilarious and always amusing and while a 'laugh-along' is not to everyone's taste, A Guide to Second Date Sex sits proudly alongside the cream of modern British comedy that forces the audience to confront their awful and awfully funny sexual foibles. It's short, satisfying and full of awkward laughs, just like the real thing. Phew. Now for a cigarette.

- Patrick Brennan


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