Absurdity is not that abundant in British theatre, and so I applaud Eggs Collective for bringing it back with Late Night Love. The show is inspired by the confessional radio show of the same name which the trio of women would listen to as teenagers. It explores the concept of love and romance, and how young women learn this. The performance, somewhere between theatre and cabaret, takes place to a soundtrack of classic love songs such as Eric Clapton’s ‘You Look Wonderful Tonight’.
These late night radio shows helped Léonie Higgins, Lowri Evans and Sara Cocker, who make up Eggs Collective, feel slightly less alien as they navigated their way into the adult world of sex and relationships. Stepping into the Marlborough Theatre for Late Night Love feels a little like entering an alien world; cabaret tables fill the space, including the stage, and the performers lurk in three corners in black full body morphsuits. Faces covered, they are alien to us just as much as we are to them. Instantly the set up makes the audience feel somewhat on edge and oddly discombobulated. Lighting design playing with bursts of intense brightness all adds to this. As the women begin rolling around the space, distributing chocolates and telling us to “relax” it isn’t exactly easy to take their advice.
I can’t say I ever fully relaxed into this performance, and at times as limbs flailed around the space dancing wildly, I did worry about getting hit in the face. As an audience member you need to place a lot of trust in these performers. One of the great things about the piece is how alive and unpredictable it feels, but this is also the element that makes it hardest to completely trust them.
As the hour goes on the women struggle through different interpretations of what love might be. Amusingly answering questions over microphones in radio-show phone in style such as “why do birds suddenly appear”. Meaning is not offered on a plate, and we are often left to figure things out for quite some time before they become apparent. A particularly enjoyable example is seeing one performer laying out a collection of men’s jackets in a line, then crawling her way into each and every one of them. All the while the other two performers speak of invented scenarios that might demonstrate true love, each one always ends with a man placing his jacket on the woman’s shoulders. The grotesque image of the performer centre stage weighed down with multiple heavy jackets speaks for itself.
For such an immersive performance there isn’t a huge amount of audience interaction, and I think it could have benefitted from more. We already felt uncomfortable as audience members, so actually this could have been pushed and conversely may have made us trust the performers more. One excellent example of audience interaction happens when Sara Cocker offers to paint a portrait of an audience member, in a chocolate of their choice. The evening I attended this happened to be fudge, and the results were hilarious.
Overall Late Night Love is surprising, slightly confusing and boundary pushing. It is not afraid to be absurd, and that is wonderful to see. It’s an excellent example of what devised theatre can do and well worth seeing.
Late Night Love is touring the UK throughout June, for dates and further information please see www.eggscollective.com
Photo: Lee Baxter