Edinburgh Fringe 2017
A chance meeting on a night bus sets two ordinary London lives on a roller-coaster of a love story.
It’s a familiar story. Grow up, leave school, do the uni thing, acquire a lot of debt, find a job that pays the rent, then get stressed when you can’t live the life you dreamed. Jim is that boy. Never had the most optimistic outlook on life, struggles to get into gear, so ends up living with his sibling who at least has a real job, with prospects and a pension.
Lucy, on the other hand, has it all planned out. Ticking off the uni and job bit, she’s now found a flat to rent and is immensely proud of her Ikea furniture and white walls. Her bucket list is all laid out; get promoted, find a man, settle down into a life of contented, familial domesticity. Trouble is, how to find the man of her dreams. Then a chance encounter on the number 12 night bus with Jim changes everything, her life, his life, her perspectives, his ambitions.
Told in the retrospective, this is a startingly life-like portrayal of life in a 21st century metropolis, alternately joyous then dark. It happens to be set in London, but it could easily be about two people in Paris, New York, Melbourne, Toronto. Anywhere that’s big enough to allow you to run away from anything and anyone. The story winds through the two lives, two people who fall hopelessly in love with each other – their unbounded joy is there for us all to see. But then the knitting starts to unravel and with it both of their respective hopes, dreams, happiness, sanity.
City Love is like city life, lived in the fast lane. Heartbreakingly honest at times, filled with poignancy and pathos at others, yet with an undercurrent of street humour that makes it so easy to identify with the characters.
Lucy, played with eloquence by the charismatic Elizabeth Lloyd-Raynes is believably aspirational, determined, ambitious and vulnerable. Jim, played with conviction by Sam Blake is gauche, naïve, gentle, romantic and, at times, a complete idiot. Two very talented actors who display real empathy with the script and with each other.
The tale is told mainly in the third person, talking through the fourth wall directly to the audience and it’s the successful use of this technique that adds real punch to Simon Vinnicombe’s excellent script, with the numerous sub-plots weaving cleverly to a very moving denouement.
It’s always a joy to find such a good all-round piece like this at the Fringe – crisp, relevant, topical writing with a message coupled with really good actors that inhabit their characters like a skin. Definitely worth a detour.