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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

‘I Love You, Now What?’

Sophie Craig / REcreate Agency

Genre: Theatre

Venue: The Beside at The Pleasance Courtyard


Low Down

Can love survive when someone dies? Ava can only wait to see if her relationship after the death of her father and the shattering of her world. We follow Ava, Theo and John as they navigate the unthinkable and try to retain hope in the face of death. Will love be enough?


‘I Love You, Now what?’ Fresh from a greatly acclaimed run at The Pleasance London this highly anticipated production is going down even better with the Edinburgh Fringe audiences. Sat in a fully sold out house, audience members are bristling for the show to begin. Regarding the carefully placed tissue on every seat, gentle remarks of ‘Oh dear’ and ‘I’m going to need this’ can be overheard. It’s a play about death, loss and grieving and you can feel that the audience is prepared to emotionally commit to its premise. What I and a lot of my fellow onlookers were not prepared for was how funny this play is. Not lip curling internally enjoyed funny moments but gargantuan belly laugh out loud moments that come from nowhere and do not detract in any way from the poignant sadness of this wonderful play. This is the proof of a script very well written and a subject entirely understood. Written by Sophie Craig who also plays the Lead of Ava, we are expertly drawn down the rabbit hole of love and loss. Questions around death and the acceptance of death are always hard. Especially if it’s the death of a parental figure. This play is always going to find an audience to resonate with and it was impressive to see a full house embracing this dark tale with such cathartic reverence and tears streaming down their faces. Hands from loving partners gently held shuddering hands, backs were rubbed and heads were reassuringly laid on shoulders. This piece hit home hard, and in a post pandemic world where most people crave comedy to deviate focus from the cruelties of the world it was almost as beautiful to watch the audience as it was to watch the play. We needed that tissue.

Sophie Craig and Andy Umerah play the roles of Ava and Theo. A couple with their relationship forged by sadness and uncharacteristic behaviour ‘she doesn’t normally do this, this isn’t her’. The chemistry between the two is electric and hilarious with Craig’s awkward physical comedy really shining through alongside Umerah’s charismatic bumbling likability. It’s going to be a rough ride for them with death looming large and unstoppable just around the corner.

A Grand Piano takes up the majority of the playing space and with The Beside being such an awkwardly small L shaped space to begin with it was hard to imagine where the actors would find room to actually perform the show. But to my delight the space is transformed into multiple, multi tiered worlds by the actors with soul shattering poignancy. One moment where Theo just walks to rearrange a piece of set shook me to my core. This is performance at its highest level.

Sean McLeavy plays Ava’s father Dad or John and also doubles up as Ava’s therapist which was a very clever choice. Not only does her world fall apart when he eventually dies but he is the only thing that can get her through it. But how can he? He’s dead! We are instantly in love with John, the football loving, piano playing and leg pulling dad. He’s relatable, warm and heartbreaking, making jokes right till the end. ‘You’ll be alright kidda’ nearly broke me everytime.

Being a daughter myself it was hard not to make comparisons with my own father and how it would feel when he dies hopefully many years from now. Craig’s portrayal of Ava’s pain and process was so vivid and real that you couldn’t not put yourself in her shoes. Theo’s character, desperate to help and support a woman who is crumbling away from the inside, is masterfully portrayed by Umerah with all the frustration, anger and bewilderment helplessly bubbling up inside him.

This play treads the line between comedy and drama with such ease. Not overly saccharine, not overly teary, just beautifully real and arresting and I suggest everyone buy a ticket immediately. If there are any left.

‘I Love you, Now What?’ plays at The Pleasance Courtyard Beside until the 28th August 2023.