Last time I saw Lovefool, it was October 2020 and it was … fine? Tucked away upstairs in the Bread and Roses Theatre, the 50 minute piece had many fantastic ideas, but was a bit rough around the edges. Much like it’s main character, the show’s charisma and warmth was there but was perhaps obscured by a veil of inexperience and naivety; both Rachel and Lovefool had some growing up to do.
Thankfully, this new 2021 iteration of the show, now performed at The Space Theatre, is polished for purpose, still delivering the same insightful laughs as before but with a tightness that overcomes its previous shortcomings. It’s still a nostalgic romp written and performed by Rachel E. Thron, but it’s now more Spice Girls and less S Club 7… !
Fundamentally, the building blocks of the show are the same: Rachel, following the failure of an IVF treatment, breaks up with her partner and retreats to her childhood home. There she discovers the long-forgotten guide of her teenage years: Sugar magazine. Returning to the glossy pages of the past, Rachel once again utilises the superficial wisdom of the mag’s fun-filled features (“How to Flirt!”) to reevaluate who she was and redefine where she’s going.
Inasmuch, the core thematic conceit of the Lovefool remains intact – the irony that many adults still adhere to the advice given to their teenage forms via these magazines. From flirting to fashion, Rachel’s sense of self is still defined by 1995’s Sugar, and that’s an issue.
Indeed, this thematic exploration was strong before, but now it’s boosted by Thorn’s newfound ease on-stage. Although consistently charismatic, before Thorn was occasionally a tad like a deer-in-headlights. Now, however, her comfortability is delightful. Relaxed, well-paced, and confident; there is probably no better guide (or glow up) than Thorn.
Equally, as ever, Lovefool remains hilarious; whether pointing out what’s aged poorly over the last 20 or so years (“here’s a perfume advert featuring the twin towers … anyone feeling nostalgic?”) or highlighting the inequalities of IVF (“I get a laparoscopy, and he gets a room of free porn!?”), Thorn has the audience giggling along.
Perhaps a new element to the show is the cyclicity of life: how Rachel is once again single and adrift and returning to the saccharine features of Sugar for guidance. For all the growing and living and loving she’s done, she’s no closer to understanding how ‘it all works’. Moreover, even the advice from her current friends even evokes Sugar’s output (“you’re free! You’re Bridget Jones, you’re Carrie Bradshaw!”) — does the rubbish advice ever end? Are we destined to forever repeat this adolescent cycle? Who knows — at least Thorn makes it funny.
Lovefool played online until 31 May 2021. For more information visit The Space Theatre online.