Edinburgh Fringe 2022
A big good blowsy ode to being queer and proud, to coming out, to finding out who you are and being yourself.
From the moment Lauryn Redding strides onto the stage, beer bottle in hand, we know we’re in good company. Before long, she’s picked up one of the guitars that are littered around the stage, played a few chords, made a musical joke or two and completely won us over. This is Elle – lives on the tenth floor of a high rise (Cloud Rise) in Manchester, works down the chippie or Chips and Dips to be precise – “If it’s beige we sell it”. We hear her story, meet her mum and her brother and get to know Elle’s life, a fairly routine life working down the chippie and gigging from time to time. Fairly routine that is until Eve steps into Chips and Dips and blows it all apart.
Evelyn – ‘but call me Eve’ is a posh girl who has moved up from London and has got a summer job in Chips and Dips before she heads off to Oxford to study medicine. Ostensibly as different as chalk and cheese, Elle and Eve forge an unlikely bond and it isn’t long before that electric tingle of touch alerts Elle that what she’s feeling for Eve is something more than friendship and something she hasn’t felt before. It’s new and different for both of them and they spend a secretive summer infatuated by each other unable to be open about their relationship.
It’s Lauryn Redding’s own story, she tells us. And she certainly does it justice: from the storytelling to the music, the scripting and sharp portrayal of a range of characters, Lauryn Redding rocks. It’s a story of class as well as of coming out, and Lauryn Redding’s mimicry skills as she moves from working class Elle to oh so pukka Eve are hilarious.
It’s a show full of warmth and humanity with many laughs along the way and some heartbreak. Elle’s story will be familiar to anyone who’s ever been in love but the need to hide what you want to shout from the rooftops is a different story. Being a lesbian, coming out and being true to yourself are given joyous voice in Bloody Elle.
Bryony Shanhan’s direction keeps it tight but appropriately rough around the edges. Mics and mic stands, guitars and loop pedals are laid out around the stage, Amanda Stoodley’s design signals from the beginning that this is gig territory with live music. The lighting and sound are spot on.
A one woman show – and what a woman – Lauryn Redding writes, performs and bloody ‘ell, she can certainly belt them out.