Games for Lovers review – truth or dare in the internet age

A giddy carefreeness underpins this light-hearted new comedy about love in the internet age – it feels as if everyone is cutting loose for the summer. Playwright Ryan Craig has penned a couple of big hitters for the National Theatre, including The Holy Rosenbergs, and the superlative sound designers Ben and Max Ringham are also on board. But no one has particularly stretched themselves. Anthony Banks’s production is efficient and easygoing – a perfectly fun yet fairly predictable watch.

Cutting loose … from left, Billy Postlethwaite, Calum Callaghan, Evanna Lynch and Tessie Orange-Turner in Games for Lovers. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

Simon Scullion’s brightly coloured set vaguely resembles a TV recording studio. The word love is spelled out across huge neon blocks that flank the stage and sections of the audience lounge about on love-seat sofas. In between scenes, the cast dance manically about. Lights flash brightly and the Ringham brothers’ music jangles overhead as four young people scour the internet and hang out in bars, searching madly for love in all the wrong places.

The script is propped up with endless games – word play, role play and a deliciously heated session of truth-or-dare. Craig carefully spells out his metaphor: love is merely a game of chance in the era of online dating (when was it anything else?). Evanna Lynch (who played Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films) and Billy Postlethwaite are particularly good.

Postlethwaite – whose last performance was as a swaggeringly macho Macbeth – plays an endearingly clueless lad, a financial analyst who refers to women as targets and, for dating purposes, has changed his name to Wham. There’s a spontaneity to his and Lynch’s performances that elevates the script and, just occasionally, makes all that game-playing feel real.

At The Vaults, London, until 25 August.

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