Sadly, self-deprecation still seems to be on trend amongst female-led theatre work. This is the case of Lobster, where Polly (Gemma Harvey) is grieving her breakup from Josh. We don’t get to meet Josh, but she repeatedly tries to call him, each call going straight to voicemail.
Voices inside her head insist that she’s not good enough, that only he could make her happy. “Time is ticking”, they say, “you should freeze your eggs”. Her mother suggests that she settle for any man, rather than being alone. This is also reiterated with zoological metaphors and, in particular, with lobsters, which are thought to keep their mate for life.
To take the pain away, she eventually throws herself into the dating scene, which now happens mainly online. Screenshots of dating apps are projected on the background, showing all sorts of filthy propositions; offers of dick pics or adventurous selfies. She doesn’t enjoy them, but she’s compelled to play ball, desperate as she is to find her mating companion. When she does meet her partners in person, she’s clumsy, pathetic, eaten by jealousy for the happy couples around her.
Based on real-life scenarios, this self-penned one-hander offers the outdated portrayal of a woman whose love life isn’t about self-fulfilment, but procreation. Sharing holidays or a bed, rather than fostering each other’s growth. Her submissive attitude risks to endorse disrespectful behaviours. Encourage men to manipulate her low self-esteem, pushing the boundaries of her self-respect. When she finally realises that it’s time to break free from those nagging voices, it’s almost too late.
Harvey is a lovely performer, with a great idea for a play. She also makes a valid point about all the rubbish about dating that can be found on the web. However, I wish she’d delved more into empowerment than self-commiseration. Come on Polly, there are plenty of lobsters in the sea. Take your heart in your own hands and show us how to be decisionmakers.
Author: Gemma Harvey
Director: Lou-Lou Mason
Producer: Sharon Burrell on behalf of Loquitur Theatre
Box Office: +44 (0)131 226 0000
Booking Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/lobster
Booking Until: 26 August 2019