Based on her acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe Play of 2012 A Guide to Second Date Sex. Rachel Hiron’s directorial debut reflects its theatrical roots with pride. Offering us a situation comedy that is quintessentially British in its awkwardness and humour. Reflecting the deepest desires of two twenty-something adults to embrace the spark of a potential new relationship. While surrounding this with their shared anxiety of impressing one another. While their friends equally pile on the pressure with less than helpful advice on what makes a second date work.
Laura (Alexandra Roach) lives with her mum following the collapse of a long term relationship. With the unfortunate revelation that the man she spent six years with was actually gay. Meanwhile Ryan (George MacKay) suffered the indignity of finding his girlfriend having sex with with one his mates in the lounge. Both are desperate to move on, yet equally trapped by the ghosts of their past. Their confidence knocked and experience of dating limited as they search for someone new.
However, on a club night out, both Ryan and Laura randomly meet at the bar. A spark of attraction leading to awkward conversation, Tia Maria shots and bad dancing. With both sensing the beginning of something new, while needing the social lubrication of alcohol to come out of their shells and make it happen. Ultimately leading to the arrangement of more sober and controlled second date.
But are Laura and Ryan really ready to move on from the relationships of the past? And can either find the confidence to make a second date work without copious quantities of alcohol? After all just how awkward can a second date be?
It transpires that a second date can be devilishly awkward, as potential sex and fumbled communication collide. All within a shared semi detached house, where housemates add to a sense of apprehension. And when sex does rear its head, both Ryan and Laura find themselves caught in a trap of internal dialogue and anxiety that ultimately leads to complications.
Hiron’s original Edinburgh Fringe production was based on real interviews, weaving each genders attitudes and anxieties into a comedy of errors. Alongside a rich and compelling exploration of human emotions, sexuality and alcohol fuelled meetings. And with the help of a superb ensemble cast it largely maintains this dynamic in its translation to the screen. With scenes that everyone, no matter of their sexual orientation or age will relate to, in the fumbling desire to get things right on a second date. While equally wrapping the viewer in the truly awkward world of sex and relationships. A world too often portrayed on film as being simple, romantic or perfect. While in reality often being messy, uncomfortable and disappointing.
Many will draw on the similarities to Fleabag, and while A Guide to Second Date Sex never quite manages to reach the heights of its contemporary. It does provide us with a cracking, funny and beautifully performed situation comedy. One that may not appeal to everyone, but should find an appreciative British audience on streaming platforms.
Director: Rachel Hirons