Epic Love and Pop Songs – Studio at New Wimbledon Theatre, London

Reviewer: Karl O’Doherty

Writer: Phoebe Eclair-Powell

Director: Samantha Robinson

Tragedies are scattered messily on top of each other, like the bundled dirty clothes that ring the set of the Studio at New Wimbledon Theatre, as Ted and Doll circle each other trying to take control of their shared story.

Told in a slightly jarring style as they recite their tale to an audience while simultaneously reliving it (using present tense at times, and reminding each other “I need you for this bit”), it’s a little tricky to follow. However, they endeavour and generally succeed in taking the audience along each unsteady step, revealing family tragedy, mental health issues and saddening social problems.

Bound together by a desperate need for connection, the two year 11 teens find a weird comfort in each other. Doll’s surprising and suspicious pregnancy gives her the attention she craves and her predicament provides Ted with someone to save. Their worlds start to disintegrate as soon as they collide and we get to spectate as they try to make the most of the pieces they’ve been left with.

While the story feels far fetched, dramatised and a bit exaggerated for effect, the most charming thing about this play is that it feels like it could be real – thanks to the characters and the actors appearing so comfortable in their roles. As Doll, Georgie Halford portrays a hurt, awkward and lost teenage girl who lashes out between moments of innocent sweetness. She’s a bully we want to root for. As the shy, caring Ted, Roel Fox is a charming and disarming guy, a mix of selfishness and extreme generosity. They bounce together and push apart throughout the play, a lovely portrayal of teenage intimacy being made and broken under Samantha Robinson’s direction.

The pair tell their story with spikes of pop song duets. Some passages defeat them, but they produce a smashing version of I Got You Babe by Sonny and Cher, and a heartbreaking, strong performance of David Guetta and Sia’s Titanium.

For a play with so much sad and awkward elements, it’s a lot of fun. The two friends are magnetic to watch, there’s provocative thought throughout, and we all certainly leave feeling a lot more empathetic about how some people can live with monumental but hidden struggles.

Runs until 23 October 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

Lovely portrayal of teenage intimacy

The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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