FWB: Friends With Boundaries

BATS Theatre, The Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

11/06/2024 - 15/06/2024

Production Details

Written and performed by Leona Revell and Regan Taylor
Directed by Lizzie Tollemache

Produced by Rollicking Entertainment

It’s hilarious, beautiful and honest. Oh, and knicker wettingly filthy! FWB is the story of two 40 somethings diving headfirst in the world of dating apps. They were not prepared. The following gory, hori and glory stories are a roller coaster of laughter, emotion and honesty around sex, relationships and existential crises via Tinder.

Starring Leona Revell (improv legend and one-time Christian entertainer) and Regan Taylor (The Māori Sidesteps, Pop Up Globe). Directed by Lizzie Tollemache.

Content warning:
Frank and open korero (as well as re-enactment with fruit) about consensual sex- from the awkward to the sublime.
Brief references to past addiction, depression and assault.

BATS Theatre, The Stage
Tuesday 11th to Saturday 15th June 2024

Leona Revell
Regan Taylor

Michael Lyell-O'Reilly

Design by Lizzie Tollemache and Regan Taylor

Theatre ,

65 mins

A revelatory snapshot of midlife desires, disappointments and delight

Review by John Smythe 12th Jun 2024

Interesting title. Boundaries? Where? Oh yes, in their current relationship. Over the time leading up to their first date, however … “Gory, hori and glory stories for anyone over 30 who’s opened a dating app at least once,” the marketing blurb goes. “Hilarious, brutally honest and knicker-wettingly filthy.”

To be fair, Leona Revell (43) and Regan Taylor (44) – who are instantly charming presenters of their respective stories and skilled at sketching in the odd supporting role – are very selective when they venture into the dating app scene. But there are few boundaries in what they share about who they were and how they lived before and during the Tinder times.

Leona, who had a Christian upbringing, had been single for 12 years and happily drifting through a Friends With Benefits relationship until she realised an unspoken boundary had been crossed. Regan had been monogamously married but increasingly in love with alcohol until his divorce left him wondering what he’d been missing out on, sex-wise.  

Two hanging frames become filled with the faces of dating candidates in Palmerston North, comically personified by Regan and Leona, and we know before their backstories are revealed that they recognise each other when at last they pop up on each other’s feed. She has seen Regan perform with The Māori Sidesteps, he knows her as a very talented improviser, so each knows the other has a good sense of humour: an essential quality on both their lists.  

Now we delve back through some of the bizarre hook-up experiences each of them had before they swiped right on each other. To detail any would be a spoiler. Suffice to say our eyes widen with amazement as often as our mouths open with laughter. Many elements will be highly relatable for some, others may answer questions you’ve never been able to ask anyone, and there’s always a chance your fantasies involving casual sex will take a battering.

Your mind may bounce between ‘Well what did you expect?’ to ‘Oh what? I wasn’t expecting that!’ And given they keep their clothes on throughout the performance and do not role play each other’s dates, you may or may not own up to the role your imagination plays in making you believe you’re seeing it all.

To temper the rollocking revelations, significant childhood experiences are mentioned that have impacted their views of the world and themselves. This adds depth to our assessments of what we are witnessing.

In the aftermath, two particular questions arise for me.

First, how did the script evolve? I imagine a point in Leona and Regan’s bourgeoning relationship where they decide to be totally honest about why they were on the dating app, and the way they tell each other their stories becomes so hilarious, and momentarily sobering, they can only conclude they have to make it into a show. So they write it up separately then together and enlist Lizzie Tollemache of Rollicking Entertainment – a perfect match! – as their Director, and also to design the simple tour-ready set with Regan.

Apart from the hanging frames, a sofa, a chair and a couple of boxes adorn the stage. They may look mundane to start with but the employment to which they are put, along with the odd banana, proves nothing is just what it seems to be at first. Also the decision to keep the houselights up, so there is a real and reassuring connection between the performers and audience, is excellent. I tautoko that for all direct-address shows.  

The running gag about how small Palmy is, when it comes to choosing not to ‘see’ someone again, prompts my second question: assuming these stories are true, will FWB: Friends With Boundaries ever play at Centrepoint? Or Auckland, for that matter, given one lubricious account which specifies an unusual combination of vocations. Presumably the publicity image features their Tinder shots and Kiwis do move round the motu a lot … Will there be a performance where someone suddenly shouts out, “That’s not how it happened!”  

Meanwhile FWB is a revelatory snapshot of midlife desires, disappointments and delight.


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