Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, Edinburgh – until 28 August 2021
Guest reviewer: Diana Miranda
What does dating mean for someone who grew up when cassettes were a thing and fell in love before the era of dating apps? Rachel has just separated from her husband and is back at her mum’s, surrounded by boxes containing memorabilia from the nineties. Among those treasures, she re-discovers Sugar magazine, the ultimate guide to tackling dating. However, being single some 20 years later – when Bumble replaces phone calls – poses a few challenges.
Written and performed by Rachel E. Thorn, Lovefool makes nostalgia a fun treat for those who can take hints involving pop music lyrics and a magazine’s cringe sections. If that’s you, this show will tell you what you want, what you really really want.
Presented in one of the spaces at The Counting House, there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a tiny hall prone to technical challenges (which, of course, as the protagonist appears on stage it is flooded with blinding lights that can’t be turned off). But that doesn’t put off Thorn, and she doesn’t seem to need any tech to give an engaging performance. As she goes through her childhood stored in boxes, toys become avatars, and she shares her story while talking to, say, a Ken-shaped ex or a troll doll fling. The smiley face toy that stands in for her best friend’s daughter, Alanis isn’t easy to forget.
With these witty props, Thorn brings to life a delightfully naive protagonist with a subtle sense of comedy. Her performance is honest and unadorned, and the interweaving of narration with song lyrics is not only strikingly clever but it suggests the extent to which pop culture may be engraved in our perception of everyday affairs, including love and femininity.
Lovefool slowly unveils the shadier aspects of an upbringing in the nineties, with all its flirting advice and make-up tutorials to look like Pamela Anderson (magazine tutorials. Not YouTube, of course). But still, this one-woman show promises a fun night out with comic flashbacks to the turn-of-the-millennium teen era, and it leaves an uplifting note embracing some serious girl power. After all, if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.
Lovefool runs through 28 August.
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