Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Review: Onstage Dating

4 April 2019

Bron Batten’s Onstage Dating is exactly the type of show you’d expect iconic Melbourne venue The Butterfly Club to put on. The audience begins the experience before Bron even appears, being handed a “volunteer” form filled with the most important questions a potential date can answer: your star sign, your wine preference and, of course, “would you fuck on a first date?” The stage is unexpectedly bare, with just an old couch and table and chairs setting the mood. This allows for Bron to shine, and from the moment Bron entered, the room was filled with laughter – well before her date had even started the audience was in stitches.

The most refreshing part of Onstage Dating is that everyone experiences Bron’s date at the same level. The person being dated has the same idea of what is going to happen as the rest of the audience, i.e. no idea. This makes for natural comedy, and Bron’s quick wit shines through best in these unscripted moments of pure human interaction. Whilst the stand-up aspects were humourous, in a post-Nanette world it is the moments of vulnerability mixed with comedy that make the show. Audiences might be surprised to find their own humour is part of the show too, which adds another level of humanity to the show, something that is often missing from pure comedy.  

My only critique of the show is that it didn’t play into the inherently queer nature of asking strangers to date you in front of a bunch of other strangers. Of the half dozen willing volunteers, only one was a man and it was him that was selected to date Bron. Of course, we (unfortunately) can’t expect everyone to denounce heterosexuality, but the constant compulsory heterosexuality was not needed and it was a missed opportunity to not discuss how dating is rooted in heterosexual expectation. Whilst Bron turns historical dating rituals on their head in surprising and hilarious ways, it could have been taken a step further.

Overall, Onstage Dating promises a night of fun, and I will be incredibly jealous if you manage to snag an onstage date with Bron.

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