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February 21, 2005 | by  | in Theatre |
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Three girls, three guys, and one big red plastic dildo star in this hilarious slice of modern life premiering at The Fringe.

When the love lives of three funky female flatmates go stale, Karen (Louise Proudfoot), Sam (Cath Harkins) and Emily (Brianne Kerr) decide to host a coldstart – for the uninitiated, this involves a dinner party with an equal number of male and female guests, where all of the dates are firsts. The stage is set (literally) for romping character-driven comedy and Coldstart doesn’t disappoint. Of course, the girls wind up inviting men who are totally wrong for them – sex-mad Sam’s date is extremely attractive yet painfully shy aerobics instructor Toby (Cooper Amai), while Emily accidentally invites wounded recent divorcee Duncan (Alan Brunton) who, in a hysterical moment, is reminded of his ex-wife by the song “I’m Horny”. While acting and characterization in this play is uniformly excellent, the limelight-stealing pair is undoubtedly repressed virgin Karen and super-arrogant laywer Simon, whose first conversation, on a Hataitai bus carries some of the funniest innuendo I’ve ever heard – I’ll never look at the Ridewell system in quite the same way again.

Writer Proudfoot, who is also discomfortingly genuine as earnest, awkward Karen, has an ear for conversation and a knack for sharp dialogue. Coldstart is effortlessly and entirely funny. Director Lyndee-Jane Rutherford (better known as an actress on WNTV and Skitz as well as a Captial E! regular) guides her cast skillfully through a wordy script, allowing the comedy to come naturally. The characters are well-defined and carry just enough stereotyping to generate laughs, yet remain realistic enough to generate sympathy.

Coldstart is almost unerringly fresh and energetic, and a loss of momentum in the play’s final 15 minutes is made up for by an outstanding closing moment. You’ve missed Coldstart’s Fringe run now, which is a crying shame, but if I was you I’d be looking out for this one returning – it’s too clever and too funny to disappear this fast!

By Lou Proudfoot
Directed by Lyndee-Jane Rutherford
BATS 13 – 16 February

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