Review- Love Pings- I AM


By: Vishal Nanda


What would happen if someone could see every whatsapp, skype, email and SMS you've received and sent over the last year? What would happen if they saw all the drunken texts, the booty calls, the dishonest I'm-not-feeling-wells and sorry-something-came-ups? And what if you were some kind of hypersexual queen pursued by millionaires and expat jet setters, juggling several relationships simultaneously that run the gamut of love (maybe?) to having sex in 'five different public places in one night?'

Apparently, it would be hilarious.

Love Pings is a frenetic performance that captures, on stage, the digital pings we are oh so overwhelmed by. The troop has taken what is literally a text based medium and translated it into physical theatre. The texts are read out loud by the various characters in the cast, each of whom plays a lover of Jane - played by Muriel Hofmann in a standout performance. They inflect the texts with their own voices - precisely how any of us hear the texts we send and read, even explicitly saying "smiley face" or "sad face" whilst briefly reflecting these emojis on their own faces. The play is both inherently absurd and accurate. The comedy never stops, with multiple messages sent and read during a year in the life of Jane.

The choreography is brilliant. The shifting power relationships with Jane are demonstrated by standing tall beside her, other times prostate, or other times causing her body to melt in response to some air spanking by the glorious, Italian, machismo, motorcyclist played by Nicole Garbellini. If you took out most of the actual dialogue you could probably still understand the ups and downs of each relationship. Props especially to Muriel Hofmann as Jane, who contorts her body without missing a line. It's something else to watch.

For almost all of the play we are living in Jane’s headspace and as voyeurs we want to.

I watched most of the play with a smile plastered to my face. It never lets up, bordering on being overwhelming, which is exactly how it ought to be.

Love Pings is billed as being based, however loosely, on the true stories that occurred to writer-director Kate March. I respect that; putting yourself out there and basing a play on something as revealing and personal as your digital romances is something to commend. The moment you're willing to be honest, that in of itself puts you above contrivance as far as I'm concerned. It's not self-indulgent but brave and brilliant all at once.

But claiming it is grounded in the real sets certain expectations. I expected something somewhat plausible and relatable to. I don't even need a plot. The first five minutes worried me. There is a monologue that seemed a bit hyperbolic and overdone, but afterwards the play proper starts and I couldn't care less about any overarching narrative. A year in the life of this character is more than enough. Later on there is more introspection in the form of protracted monologues. They seem unnecessary to me, as Jane’s experiences speak for themselves. She shows and doesn't tell. The physical theatre moments and dialogue were much stronger than the monologues in the script.

Visually there is so much physical tension between the lovers. A common image between Jane and her would-be pursuers, as they flirt via text, is of both characters facing each other, palms up, getting closer, but never crossing that last inch to touch - even as they dance around the stage. Despite the allusions to impressive sexual exploits, which, except in a few instances, are described rather than (hilariously) demonstrated, there is little actual physical contact. When it does happen - such as in the form of a kiss, it really means something.

And isn't that an honest, and sad statement?

I feel so much better to know other people have done the same stupid things I have. I am so mortified by their responses. I am so sympathetic of others that have done this to me. Everyone lies. There is this line, which I'll paraphrase from the play, where Jane says something like "Maybe we use technology with its distance to talk to one another because real people are just so fragile" as we watch one of her lovers break down over the phone.

It's beautiful.

I have a major problem however, with the plot, and particularly the last third of the play. Without spoiling it I have to say that it's implausible, even if it is somehow based on true events. It is heavy handed, and rather incongruous with the rest of the play. That's the main problem- it doesn't flow. I was enjoying the rest of the play so much, which means high expectations were set; an unconvincing ending equates to a further fall.

But the heart of the play is there and I sincerely hope that the work is improved over the run. The performances are all excellent but there is so much room for improvement in the writing, which is another way of saying - I love it, I care, make it better because I want it to be.

There is a lot to take in with I AM’s Love Pings, especially the physicality. I'm not sure if I feel better or worse about any of the texts I have sent.  It seems "TTYL my phone is low on batteries." means exactly what I was afraid it did.

Which is hilarious.


Love Pings is playing at the Fringe Club through Saturday. For more information, click here.


Rate This Show: 1 2 3 4 5 Audience Rating: 4.5


  • Ally
    10 October 2015

    Bloody brilliant show!
  • Melanie
    10 October 2015

    I see what the critic is saying with the ending, it was a bit cliche but I didn't mind it. Although, I agree less speeches near the ending would improve the script. Bigger issue for me was sound volume where I couldn't hear the performers. This was a very entertaining show- I recommend for girls who have been burnt by digital dating.

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