Conor O’Cuinn writes and leads solo show Looking For Fun? which returns to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and houses up in the city’s Bedlam Theatre. The fifty-five minute piece examines the damaging effect of hook-up culture and online dating apps on a young gay man. Tazy Harrison-Moore directs the production following a run at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington.
A young gay man navigates the online world of hook-ups and dating through Grindr. With the app becoming an all consuming presence in the man’s life, he is lead into increasingly dangerous situations – from sexual health scares, forced sexual interactions, and a debilitating rape. Looking For Fun? taps into legitimate concerns about the reckless dangers gay men can face when embarking on anonymous hook-ups.
Looking For Fun? presents a startlingly bleak account of the world of hook-ups with Conor’s protagonist struggling to form a solid emotional connection through the app. Even dates with potential – an overnight stay which leads to a breakfast, inevitably ends in a blocking. Attempting to fill the void, the young man is thrust into increasingly reckless situations, none of which fulfil his need for human connection.
Matters grow increasingly dark with Looking For Fun? showcasing Conor’s lead in a desperate quest for poppers, forced into performing a sex act, with the young man pushed into a destructive spiral after being used. A case of falsifying identity is explored in a further scene where the young man finds himself blindfolded and raped in a darkened flat, struggling to escape. It’s all devastatingly bleak at points.
Looking For Fun? interesting finds a lighter tonic in exploring gay men navigating a predominantly straight world. An awkward interaction with a football loving straight barber leads to some astute observations and welcome humour.
Staged simply with a sole chair and multimedia screen, allows us to focus on Conor’s skilful performance. The actor packs an emotional punch, delving into the destructive effects of his hook-ups and the subsequent damaging mental and physical health effects that spring from it.
Whilst powerful in its condemnation of Grindr, Looking For Fun? neglects to explore the app’s ability to build community. Grindr has also become a viable way for people to make queer friends, launch traditional dates, or simply chat. Those uncomfortable or intimidated by the ‘gay scene’ can still feel part of a community forming relationships through gay-centred apps. Conor’s protagonist utilises the app solely for sex and therefore ends up in reckless, dangerous scenarios.
Provocative and direct, Looking For Fun? is a sharply performed look into the destructive effect of hook-up culture. Albeit one-sided in its approach, Conor O’Cuinn has crafted a solid piece of work with this solo show.
Looking For Fun?’s run has now finished. You can find tickets to all Edinburgh Festival Fringe shows here.