Lovefool – Bread and Roses, London

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Writer: Rachel E. Thorn

Director: Claire Dean

Clapham’s Bread and Roses was one of the first indoor venues to welcome back theatre and socially distanced audiences at the end of August but while that opening show proved to be a disappointment, its new show seems more of a fit. Lovefool, a small drama of a woman reliving the 1990s, seems right at home in this room above the pub.

In this one-woman show Rachel E. Thorn plays Rachel a woman in her late 30s who has just left the husband she met at university. Their attempts to have a baby through IVF have failed, and it seems that Alex blames his wife for this failure. She packs her bags and goes home to mother. Of course, these are traumatic events, but straightaway Thorn’s deadpan delivery turns comedic and this story is full of humour.

Back in her childhood room, Rachel turns for advice from her teenage magazine Sugar. Its glossy pages are full of handy hints on how to snag boys. A new man has just started at the office, and Rachel puts Sugar’s tips into action. They work like a dream and soon she’s going out with Matt. The best parts of the show are those moments when she consults the magazine and its Dear Tony section, its personality tests and its posters of Home and Away heartthrobs. The inappropriate titles of some of the features bring their own laughs: ‘Do You Hate Yourself?’ ‘Could You Look Like Pam [Anderson]?’

Thorn’s storytelling is clear, and the use of dolls to play the other characters is a nice touch, though surely Rachel’s mother won’t be too pleased to see that she’s being portrayed by a china pig. Thorn does stumble a few times over her lines but quickly composes herself and continues, but it was the first night after all. Otherwise it’s a tight and clean production.

It’s also very short, too, barely running over 40 minutes. It doesn’t need to be any longer but the conclusion is rushed, and comes across as too neat and too pat. Underneath the jokes and reminiscences Thorn asks some very pertinent questions about how girls were brought under the patriarchy by these kind of magazines, dependent on boys and beauty and perhaps that is where the story should end, with her ripping up the old bibles of instruction.

Lovefool may have you pining for The Spice Girls and Shania Twain, and as the show finishes at 8.45 there’s plenty of time to have a couple of Bacardi Breezers before the 10pm curfew and the tube home.

Runs until 1 October 2020

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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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