Fringe review: Two Strangers Walk Into A Bar

This delightfully thought-provoking, interactive show, conceived by Adelaide star of stage and screen Tilda Cobham-Hervey, is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. Or maybe a bit like something… But actually, no, nothing like it at all… ★★★★

Mar 18, 2021, updated Mar 18, 2021

A stranger sends me instructions by email. I will find a chair outside a restaurant. I must sit down, sanitise my hands, put on a blindfold and wait.

As I sit in the busy Adelaide street, listening to the birds, a passing bicycle, high heels clacking on the pavement, it occurs to me that this experience is about trust. Trust that it’s safe to sit here blindfolded with life carrying on around me. Trust that I’m not going to be thrust into some dreadful situation, compelled to endure it to the bitter end. Trust that the stranger will be benevolent, that I won’t regret agreeing to all this.

For the first time in many years, I have no idea how I’m going to be spending the next 40 minutes, or who I’m going to be spending it with. My excitement has an edge of apprehension. What if I don’t like the stranger? What if they don’t like me? What if we’re supposed to converse and we don’t have anything to say? I guess it’s going to be a bit like a Tinder date.

But no, it’s nothing like a Tinder date. It begins with a headset and Cobham-Hervey’s lilting voice, guiding me through the action. In the most charmingly cheeky way possible, I’m invited to get philosophical. I stare up at clouds, I look down at paving, I get cosy with my own skin blemishes. Look how insignificant everything is, Cobham-Hervey seems to say, and yet it’s all simultaneously significant. There are hidden messages in everything. Don’t forget to stop and look around you.

Later, I meet a stranger in a bar. We share a drink, a few awkward glances and some intimate information. There’s even some fumbling under the table. (Okay, maybe it IS a bit like a Tinder date.)

Fortunately, my date, Belinda, is lovely. We take photos, we exchange gifts, we say regretful farewells. I go home with a book full of memories and a brick, but also so much more than that. When a show is as carefully and cleverly conceived as this, it’s impossible not to be affected by it. It leaves us with a new awareness of the vulnerability of others and the beauty of making connections. It reminds us that none of this is forever, that we should take the time to look for those messages.

Clever, funny and world-view-changing, Two Strangers is nothing like a Tinder date.

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Two Strangers Walk Into a Bar takes place in The Lab, Light Square, until March 21, but is unfortunately sold out.

Read more Adelaide Fringe reviews and previews  here.


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