Edinburgh Fringe 2009
All the Lonely People and Me
Venue: The Spaces at Royal College of Surgeons
Festival: Edinburgh Fringe
All credit is due to someone prepared to stand up and talk for an hour about a subject that most of us think about a great deal but almost never speak about.
Claire Fleury begins by dramatising what she sees as the difficulty that we in her audience have in recognising that we are implicated in the topic. But though that is thought-provoking, it seems to me wrong-headed. Most of us are surely very aware of loneliness as an issue that affects us. We have been lonely in the past or fear that we might be lonely in the future. Or we are lonely now.
She then offers a series of vignettes of “lonely” people which are evocative and haunting but which fail to distinguish between the state of being alone and of being lonely. A man standing in the street holding a sign advertising a sandwich bar, whom she evokes for her audience, is certainly alone but is not necessarily lonely. You can, on the other hand, feel very lonely in the middle of a party of close friends celebrating your birthday.
And even leaving aside the blurring of the difference between loneliness and solitude, she does not discriminate between different kinds of loneliness. Being lonely in a strange town is not the same as being lonely inside a relationship.