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Banging Denmark | Finborough Theatre

Banging Denmark brings a fresh twist to the romantic comedy genre in its European premiere at the Finborough Theatre. Written by Van Badham and directed by Sally Woodcock, it guides us through some familiar romcom tropes, but mixes them with a heavy dose of social commentary to shake up the genre and leave audiences with a play which is both funny and thought-provoking.

Misogynist podcaster Jake Newhouse (Tom Kay) has never met a woman he couldn’t get into bed, using the strategies he preaches to his audience in the ‘seduction community.’ But when he meets a wall of icy indifference from Danish librarian Anne Toft (Maja Simonson) he turns to help from an unlikely source, feminist academic Ishtar Madigan (Rebecca Blackstone).

Ishtar is living in her office photocopying room after an online battle with Jake’s alter ego Guy de Witt robbed her of her savings and left her the subject of harassment from his disciples. Knowing that she’s strapped for cash, Jake offers her £50,000 if she can win him a date with Anne.

Badham’s script is whip-smart and at its best in the comedic scenes which make up the bulk of the 100-minute production, with jokes ranging from the explicit to the nerdy landing with equal ease. The social commentary is also skilfully handled and rarely feels heavy-handed.

As Ishtar, Blackstone has a delightfully chaotic energy which perfectly captures the spirit of an academic who has spent a little too long alone with their research, and she plays off against the rest of the cast well, particularly in her sparring matches with Kay’s Jake.

Kay has in many ways a harder job in making Jake sympathetic, but he delivers a nuanced performance which shows us the character’s hidden depths, while Simonson plays Anne with a hilarious intensity and is given plenty to work with on the comedy front.

The cast is rounded out by Jodie Tyack as Dr Denyse Kim and James Jip as her besotted best friend Toby Bello (as well as the voices of several of Jake’s podcast callers). Tyack is a scene stealer with a knack for physical comedy, while Jip is sadly underused although his hopeful energy brings a new dimension to the ensemble when he does appear.

Katy Mo and Leah Kelly’s set design makes clever use of the small space and need for quick scene changes, splitting the stage down the middle between Jake’s bachelor pad and Ishtar’s office lair, while lighting design from Richard Williamson is also simple but effective.

Combining outrageous comedy with biting social commentary, Banging Denmark will leave audiences with plenty to unpack about the nature of modern dating and relationships.

Banging Denmark runs at the Finborough Theatre until 11th May. For more information and tickets, follow the link here.


Gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Ali Wright


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