Summerhall – Red Lecture Theatre
Sitting in the cusp between drama and dark comedy, Gintare Parulyte’s Lovefool starts with a tongue-in-cheek church-issued video set in the 80s and called “Sex education for girls”. In it a middle-aged woman gives a romanticised but uncomfortably graphic description of sexual intercourse which makes the whole audience burst into laughter. This becomes even louder as the lady claims that God is the one who loves us most.
When this ends, Grace (Kristin Winters) runs onto stage wearing an enormous wedding dress, which reinforces the impression of a grotesque comedy. It turns out she’s just having an audition with a despicable casting director, who will eventually prompt some sort of rebellion. Despite a witty opening, the subject matter of this play isn’t really laughing material but a blistering look into trauma and how this informs the way one loves and expects to be loved.
In a harrowing journey of self-discovery, Grace decides to truly understand what love is. Helped by a professional, she becomes aware that her vision – and consequently the partners she chooses for herself – has been tainted by things that happened in her childhood. Her spiral of loneliness, excessive drinking and compulsive masturbation being nothing but a ripple effect of those events. The realisation that most chart-topping love songs are nothing but portrayals of glamourised toxic relationships is a light-bulb moment both for her and ourselves.
Winters is perfectly cast for the role. Her small frame gives her an air of vulnerability that makes it all the more relatable. Her natural verve compliments both the tearful episodes and the funny ones. It’s always a good sign if when watching a play we find ourselves wondering whether it is an autobiographical story – testament to the actor’s commitment.
A hard-hitting finale single-handedly wipes off all the previous gaiety, as we are actively invited to look into our own experience of being a victim. Lovefool might not add anything new to what we already know about the pain chain of abuse and misplaced affection but it is a well-considered and moving look into one out of millions of cases. One that is meant to inspire its audience to seek help and find out the importance of self-love.
Written and Directed by: Gintare Parulyte
Produced by: Théâtre National du Luxembourg, Kristin Winters, Gintare Parulyte
Lovefool plays at EdFringe 2023 until 27 August, 7:15pm at Summerall. Further information and bookings here.