Grindr The Opera bursts onto the stage with a creative flair that pushes boundaries and invites audiences on a captivating journey. Written by Erik Ransom, this production seamlessly blends heartfelt storytelling, exceptional performances, mesmerising music, and imaginative staging to create a theatrical experience that leaves a lasting impression.
In this story, Grindr isn’t just a piece of technology, but they are instead a god, a goddess, a deity, a demon. They play with human hearts (and other body parts), tempting them with technology and tangling their connections until they’ve had their fill. Here, Grindr is much more than a passive app, and the characters of Tom, Devon, Don, and Jack find this out the hard way – no one really lives happily ever after in Grindr The Opera. Except for Grindr themselves, of course.
Under the direction of William Spencer, the cast of Grindr The Opera shines brightly, bringing their characters to life with energy and conviction. James Aymon and Grant Jackson deliver standout performances as Grindr’s minions, infusing the stage with humour and mischief. Christian Lunn takes on the role of Grindr with an astonishing display of talent, delivering a stunning performance that is matched by his beautiful vocals and impressive ability to walk in some very high heels.
Billy J. Vale embodies the character of Tom with authenticity and depth, bringing a relatable and emotional presence to the stage. Dereck Walker’s rendition of “Love and Destroy” as Don is truly moving, eliciting a heartfelt response from the audience. Santino Zapico’s portrayal of Devon, who just wants love, and James Lowrie’s portrayal of Jack, who couldn’t think of anything worse, add further layers of complexity and nuance to the ensemble, showcasing the incredible range and talent of the cast.
The atmospheric set design from David Shields is a treat. The first impression is of a church where the masses can pray to Grindr every time they open the app. Alongside the pillars and dark corners are four brightly lit boxes – these are where the characters go when they want to ‘load more guys’ and find whatever it is they’re looking for. They’ll each step out of these boxes to live their lives, but soon enough they’re back inside, scrolling for the next new hookup or relationship. Combined with innovative lighting by Jonathan Chan and dynamic set pieces, the staging adds a captivating visual element to the production.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a show with the word ‘opera’ in the title is sung through, but what might come as a surprise is just how seamlessly the various genres and styles are blended to create a melodic tapestry that really resonates with listeners. The score beautifully reflects the dynamic and diverse experiences within the gay community, effortlessly conveying a range of emotions, from joy and passion to heartache and longing. Each song is meticulously crafted, with lyrics that are witty, poignant, and deeply relatable, serving as a powerful means of storytelling.
Grindr The Opera offers a brave and unique perspective on modern relationships and queer experiences. While it may initially seem tailored to a specific audience, the universal themes of love, rejection, fear, and loneliness resonate with everyone in the theatre. Erik Ransom’s writing skilfully weaves together these themes, showcasing the shared human experiences that lie beneath the surface.
With its talented cast, standout performances, and Erik Ransom’s compelling writing, Grindr The Opera is a vibrant showcase of love, lust, diversity, and music.
Grindr The Opera is at The Union Theatre until 8th July