Reviews - Fringe 2014

Fringe Review: XOXO The Relationship Show

By Anne Bokma
Published July 20, 2014


Consider them the Tina Fey and Amy Poehler of the Hamilton Fringe. That's shorthand for saying Meghan Chalmers and Franny McCabe-Bennett, the writers, directors and stars of XOXO The Relationship Show, have the kind of fantastic comic chemistry we rarely get to see between women on the stage.

After catching them in their short 20-minute workshop version of XOXO as part of the Fringe's inaugural Gallery Mini-Series last year, I left wanting more. This newly expanded 60-minute comedy cabaret delivers plenty more of their original smart and sassy commentary on the pleasures and pitfalls (mostly the latter) of dating in the age of social media.

Using a blend of sketch comedy, theatre and music, Chalmers and McCabe-Bennett are entirely likeable, goofy and given to occasional pratfalls in their quest to illuminate the complexity of dating in the modern age.

They ruminate on the pressures facing women in search of love, whether it's the plight of picking the right user name for a dating site, whether - and where - to shave for a first date ("sometimes a preemptive non-shave can be a lady's best friend") and bemoaning the wasted energy they pour into men ("I had to explain what a feeling is!").

This charming and talented duo hit all the right notes, particularly when they break into song. Their clever lyrics capture the singular despair of those who attempt to find comfort in a crowd in the Irish folk song, "The Isle of Starbuck," and their parody of Britney Spears in "Oops, You Did it Again," hilariously detonates the confounding compulsion of men who send "dick pics" via snapchat.

The two brilliantly round out the show by throwing in a little Shakespeare into the mix to remind us that there is absolutely nothing new under the sun when it comes to romantic entanglements. "How wayward is this foolish love," wrote the Bard. 

Chalmers and McCabe-Bennett showcase their talents to mock how silly and stupid mating rituals can be-and they point to the universal truth that in the search for love, we never tire of trying.

Anne Bokma is an award-winning journalist in Hamilton. She writes the "Spiritual But Secular" monthly column for the United Church Observer, reporting on the spiritual practices of the growing spiritual-but-not-religious demographic. Her blog, "My Year of Living Spiritually," is hosted on the Observer website.


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