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Review of I Love You, Now What? at Pleasance Theatre - Absolutely riveting

Rated 🍯 🍯 🍯 🍯

I Love You, Now What? at Pleasance Theatre is a powerful and poignant play that explores the theme of grief with honesty and, unexpectedly, humour.

The play starts off rather playfully, with our protagonist - an adorably klutzy young woman - and her future significant other - fooling around the pub with an awkwardness and clumsiness reminiscent of a bull in a china shop.

As their relationship develops over the months, the woman begins to cope with anticipatory grief over her dying father. Torn between hoping for a miracle and accepting the inevitable, she narrates her journey of grief through a series of monologues, flashbacks and interactions with her father, boyfriend and therapist. Writer and performer Sophie Craig is tremendously witty, sarcastic and vulnerable. What a superb job of portraying complex emotions; the bee couldn’t help but wonder if she was really just acting.

The play is not only about sadness, but also about love, hope and resilience. It shows how grief can affect different people in different ways, and how it can bring them closer or push them apart. It also touches on some important issues such as mental health, family dynamics and social expectations. The way Craig weaves together tragedy and comedy, and the way she manifests such a multitude of ever-changing emotions, and the way she carries herself on stage with this hefty bag of emotions inside her person the entire time — the tension in the air was so palpable that the bee thought it could be cut with a knife. It was as though she was not even acting but actually going through the motions of a real bereavement and grief process.

Everyone in the audience was crying, and understandably so — we have all either been through such loss, or fear it. (Kudos to the creatives for the cabaret-style seating — helped the audience hold one another).

One thing that I felt was lacking in the play was the development of the father-daughter relationship. The father seemed rather distant and detached from his daughter's pain, and we don't get to see much of his own grief or how he tries to support her. I think the play could have benefited from more depth and nuance in this aspect. (But to be fair, there wasn't a single dry eye in the entire theatre by the end of this play, so further emotional depth may have had us all wailing loudly at the top of our voices!)

However, this is a minor flaw in an otherwise brilliant play that will make you laugh, cry and think. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys theatre that is emotional, engaging and meaningful, not to mention a powerful reminder to cherish and celebrate the people we love while we still can.

Four stars.

Watched April 2023 at The Pleasance, London.

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