Please Love Me at Edinburgh Fringe ★★★★
Pole dancing and gig-theatre combine for this autobiographical show of two halves which ultimately finds a startlingly emotional depth.
Clementine Bogg-Hargroves writes and performs this (mostly) one woman show about a student who works at a strip club to pay her way through an Arabic degree, whilst pursuing a toxic relationship with a boy from home.
Bogg-Hargroves is an engaging stage presence, so effortlessly embodying the stage persona of a young woman who is all at once wholly confident in her body and sexuality, but also wholly unable to resist the lure of her exploitative first boyfriend.
The incorporation of pole dancing into an otherwise mostly straightforward monologue is entertaining, but doesn’t act to really drive forward the narrative in any meaningful way. And the on-stage presence of a music & dance collaborator who remains mostly silent presents an odd visual arrangement. Throw in some decidedly student union jokes and japes, and it would be easy to dismiss Please Love Me as just another lightweight fringe offering.
There’s method here though. The smart script – and even smarter performance – pulls off a supremely impressive tonal shift for a final act which draws its audience into a deeply personal, emotive subject area. It’s powerful stuff, perfectly pitched and pulled off with brave emotional honesty.
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