Edinburgh Fringe 2011
An examination of affairs of the heart of all kinds that absolutely bristles with energy and sends you out into the street grinning from ear to ear and with your faith in humanity brimming over.
“It must be love, love, love, nothing more, nothing less; love is the best”. And so it is – Junction 25’s dissection of affairs of the heart is just that – the best.
Glasgow based Junction25 are a group of teenagers creating theatre heavily based on their own lives and experiences, and while Adam keeps telling us “I don’t have any experience of romantic love’ this rumbustious and energetic show is full of insight. It speaks to us with a freshness and directness that is straight from the actors’ mouths. A devised show which gives the Junction25 teenagers an equal voice: it’s fresh, it’s honest and it’s original.
It’s about the heart in all its forms: romantic love, the physical organ, sisterly love, friendship. What is this little thing that we call love that causes so many complications but which we can’t live without?
Adam, the one with no experience of romantic love, stands at the back writing up what he loves: his dad’s chicken curry alongside Facebook, his brother and Ninja Turtles. The sublime and the ridiculous; the 21st century and the perennial. Meanwhile there are choreographed ensemble scenes with the whole cast jumping frenetically, burning off youthful calories as if there were no tomorrow. “I’m out”, “I’m out”, they chorus as first one then another falls to the ground, no longer able to take the pace. Intermittently a couple run towards each others’ arms, towards an embrace and heartbreakingly just miss and fall to the floor. Two sisters question sisterly love: “Will you still love me tomorrow?” “In ten years?” until they are clawing at each other’s hair.
Then there’s Tom who stands centre stage as the girls reject him one by one. One even stops by to give him the benefit of her few extra years of experience: it’ll happen your whole life, she tells him, you’ll keep on getting rejected and trying again. Then there’s Nathan who has something to tell Tom. He reads out a letter: “it must be love, love, love” and he reads it again and again. Until finally the whole company burst out into a rumbustious chorus of the song.
When the whole cast belts out the Justin Timberlake version of Cry Me A River, it’s overplayed, it’s histrionic, it’s funny and it’s absolutely, totally right – and somehow so, so heart-rending.
Sometimes it’s tongue in cheek, sometimes it’s cheesy, sometimes it’s intense. It hits all the buttons: one minute you’re laughing, the next there’s a tear in your eye. It’s a strong ensemble performance from an impressive cast. Directors Tashi Gore and Jess Thorpe have created a a show about the heart that’s absolutely full of heart.
In one way, I Hope My Heart Goes First feels like a show that could only be done by teenagers because of where they stand on the cusp of life and their relationship to love, but make no mistake: this isn’t just good teenage theatre; it’s good theatre full stop. It’s big and it’s bold. It takes risks but you can feel the love; you can feel that this is a collective effort where the whole cast support each other to be the best they can be.
And just one more thing, Tom. They may be right, you may just keep on getting rejected your whole life. But I doubt it – you’re too cute, too nice – just don’t go asking girls to play X-box with you.