Sitting down to watch Lost in Love, I feel like I’m back in April or May when theatre was all online. Like most theatre fans, I’ve watched a lot of filmed monologues this year, and it’s amazing how quickly in-person theatre has become normal again. In a way, for this reason, Lost in Love feels like a remnant of a theatrical era that we’re now gradually moving away from. Unfortunately, the prevalence of monologues this year has raised the standards for the genre and makes this production feel slightly underwhelming. With that said, the piece is well-structured, passionate, and full of character.
It feels like the aim for this production was to write a Scottish version of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s smash hit Fleabag: this is in many ways successful, but also means it isn’t treading any new ground. The show opens with our protagonist Emily (Rachel Pryde) sat in the centre of a stage in a black coat, speaking to an offstage voice that appears to be a police officer about being a bad friend. We then snap into a party scene, and Emily goes on to describe her experiences with her friends and love interests, touching on uncomfortable dates, awkward sex, and drunken mistakes. It’s true that this is standard monologue fare, but as Emily gives her dates funny epithets, jokes about dressing for herself not men because she’s “a good feminist”, and addresses the audience while seated on a toilet, it’s difficult not to draw parallels with Waller-Bridge’s giant of the genre.
One of the greatest strengths of this production is its pacing: the script, by Nathan Kean and Megan Bowie, has dialogue that’s well-structured, with a natural rise and fall, and Pryde brings this out well. She has an excellent stage presence and breathes life into the script, creating a distinctive character and switching smoothly between comical vocal impressions and emotionally intense speeches. The central intrigue of the script also works well, with the mystery of what happened between Emily and her friend coming up the right number of times among the other scenes and building steadily to its climax.
At the same time, however, the comedy, unfortunately, often falls flat: without an audience to bounce off, several moments clearly signpost when we are supposed to laugh. The sheer number of characters Pryde has to inhabit means that not all of them come across as well as others, and leaving some feeling slightly cringeworthy. The number of characters also makes the narrative tricky to follow at times.
Visually, Lost in Love is simple but effective. Most of the show is Emily sat on a chair in the centre, speaking directly to the audience, but sound effects and lighting realistically create a messy party, the bedroom of a one night stand, an awkward restaurant, public transport, and a bathroom. Director Nathan Kean handles the filmed monologue genre expertly, with camera angles also complementing the blocking.
Unfortunately for this production, over the past year, we have come to expect a lot from filmed monologues. It’s harder than ever to create something that feels fresh and original, to stand out from the crowd. Even so, Lost in Love creates a distinctive character and flows well – the full team behind it clearly have a lot of potential, and I look forward to seeing what they do next.
Lost in Love is streaming on demand as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. For more information and tickets, see the show’s Edinburgh Fringe page.