The title of Two Blue Ticks and One Thumbs Down gives the impression that Grace O’Leary’s one-woman play is a satire of the modern dating world—the ‘two blue ticks’ refer to the messaging app Whatsapp, while the ‘thumbs down’ alludes to the ‘like’ function on Facebook.
Instead, it is an extended monologue from the perspective of Rose Doyle (Michelle Stoker), whose happy marriage contrasts with the dating antics of her friends—that is, until her world is turned upside down by her husband’s infidelity.
Michelle Stoker’s natural onstage presence makes you feel as if you’re talking to a friend, and the cosy setting of the downstairs performance space at Gullivers adds to this feeling of intimacy.
Rose begins her story by commenting on her friends’ love lives with a touch of bemused pity—she wittily observes that work colleague Claire’s love life is like a second job, with all the planning and effort that it takes. But her strained smile and determinedly bright tone hint at the devastating revelation to come—that husband Gary has slept with Claire on a trip abroad.
Rose’s emotional reaction is confined to the audience—she can only imagine venting her anger at Claire, for fear of the repercussions at work. She can’t confront Gary face to face because he is still away, a separation echoed by his total absence from the play. She has doubts about whether to trust him that continue right up to the play’s ambiguous ending.
If Two Blue Ticks was a Hollywood rom com or a chick lit novel, Rose would leave Gary and start a whirlwind, Bridget Jones-esque single life full of awkward first dates and encounters with handsome strangers. But Grace O’Leary’s story is firmly rooted in reality, and Rose’s confused, complicated feelings cannot be resolved so comfortably.
The stage is set up simply to evoke a living room, adding to the feeling of a private confessional. At the start, Rose is rummaging through a box of nail polish—she then paints her nails (though only on one hand) and impressively manages not to smudge them on anything for the duration of the performance.
The play lasts only half an hour, and fully exploring the world of modern dating and relationships within such a tight time frame is asking the impossible. But in spite of its length, Two Blue Ticks and One Thumbs Down manages to be an insightful portrait of a real woman going through an emotional crisis.