Fringe Theatre




The synopsis for this show from Théâtre National du Luxembourg reads: “Grace, a young woman hungry for affection and looking for love in all the wrong places, is forced to discover what healthy (self) love might look like.” As a young woman, also called Grace, who just happens to relate to that sentence in a way that’s too strong to ignore, it’d be rude not to see it. Gintare Parulyte’s play didn’t disappoint. It’s honest, with writing that’s as unashamed in its jokes as in its trauma. Kristen Winter’s performance as Grace is bold, but also unassuming and you lose yourself in the vulnerability she gives you privy to.

The character’s a shaken bottle of hypocrisy, confidence, alcoholism, expensive therapy, and short-term self -soothing that’s about to fizz over. Gintare Parulyte has written and directed the tale of a red-flag dodging young woman trying to find peace and satisfaction without ever looking back into herself. We watch her on a journey to find out that this is an impossible feat, and our Grace starts to heal.

The set was basic, but resonant. The modern furniture is likely the stuff you’ve seen in flats: a chest of drawers in light coloured wood, a Scandi-style armchair and white wicker room divider. This is going to be a familiar tale: the familiar pressure to find extraordinary love for yourself in brutally ordinary circumstances.

The play begins with a projector beaming a vintage sex-ed video: it’s Irish, Catholic and very 1980s. The audience giggled as the little old lady mimics cringe inducing hand gestures. It was a hilarious opener and set the tone perfectly. A room united by laughter and their unfortunate experiences.

We first meet Grace sprinting down the stairs as a male voice calls her into an audition. She’s running late because she was stuck behind a silent disco (what else?). She’s adorned in a 1980s style wedding stress way too oversized, which we learn belonged to her mother – a relationship she never could fit into either. Throughout this audition, Grace is the victim of mansplaining, manipulation, and unflinching misogyny, all for a part she hates. She’s still elated to get a callback, though.

There’s a genius critique of the ‘self-care phenomenon’, where we’re over-sold products that will solve our problem. We buy them instead of dealing with causes. Grace lights her scented candle, a uniform act of consumer’s self-care, only to self-harm in its fragranced glow. She prefers to cut the same wound than start new ones, and Parulyte embeds this behaviour into many aspects of Grace’s life: a dangerous avoidance that isn’t her fault.

Lovefool is excellent. It has a heaviness that isn’t always well placed and can be clunky, but its beauty is in the moments you don’t expect. Beautiful video footage is sandwiched between scenes, where we hear children talk about what makes a woman, or women talk about what makes a father. They’re poignant and bittersweet, and elevate the story, eliminating the threat of predictability.

It is hearty and emotive but expect classic Fringe gags too. My favourite? Grace stumbling out of a profound AA meeting and realising she needs AA batteries for her loyal vibrator. You really do watch her get her life in order … It’s delightful and ends up bringing the audience together in a way you won’t forget.

Until August 27

Grace Sansom is working with The Herald for the duration of the Edinburgh Festival as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe's prestigious Emerging Critics Scheme. Read more of her reviews here