Friday 10th June 2022 at Barons Court Theatre, London.
Reviewer: Maygan Forbes
Love (to) Bits, written by Ioana Goga and directed by Ioana Goga & Jez Davess-Humphrey, boldly explores the trials and tribulations of a 20-something year old female looking to find her love. Long lasting, happy love is a journey but what exactly defines it? Who tells you what is love and what is the cost at the end? Goga plays the hopeless romantic Cynthia who, at the tender age of 27, takes the audience on a journey of her own self-discovery and romantic fanaticism for the one. Cynthia has loved the idea of “love” since she was 4, and by incorporating elements of verbatim theatre, multi-rolling and Brechtian elements, her story is split into two arcs. We follow Cynthia whilst also getting testimonies of what love means to a diverse range of people, of all different occupations and ages.
Barons Court Theatre is such a cute theatre. It was my first time seeing a show there and I thought this play perfectly fit the space. The play itself I can honestly describe as being similarly just as cute. The romantic life of the lead character Cynthia is a bit choppy to follow at first however as the play continues, we slowly get into the complexities of modern day dating and the constant pressure to feel the need to be in a relationship. Goga’s energy vibrates on stage as she walks us through what love has meant to her character, I felt as though I was her friend listening to the nuances of her fractured love life. Navigating the dating world is difficult at any age but specifically 27, it can feel very isolating and lonely. Goga captures this feeling very well, and at the end of the play, makes a promise to herself to place her commitment towards dating herself.
Cynthia exposes the audience to her first crush, her first boyfriend (played by Tómas Hoswer), her first holiday in a relationship, her first heartache – perfectly exemplified by recreating the iconic Bridget Jones blanket over head, pint of ice cream, “All By Myself” by Celine Dion crooning scene. We witness Cynthia go on multiple failed dates and have a toxic back and forth with a lazy ex-boyfriend who wants to commit to playing the field but not commit to a partner. Cynthia is real and I see her in a lot of my friends, acquaintances, family members, and even myself.
I enjoyed the breaks in Cynthia’s love life storytelling with verbatim theatre. Beatrice Bowden plays multiple characters who have a story to tell about their own lessons in love. Bowden is wonderful and her ability to switch from a painter to an old war veteran in his 80’s is just perfect to watch on stage. It’s heartwarming listening to other people’s declarations of love, and it’s nice to know that the dreamy love stories that seem to only exist in Hollywood movies, are existing in the real world too. Love is a topic that isn’t really discussed amongst people, what love means to you and if you’ve experienced it. It seems like a fairly trivial conversation but it’s important, it’s a universal feeling that transcends and connects our humanity. I think having the verbatim breaks in the play worked really well and added a strong depth to the play.
Another anecdote I felt the play did well was the ending! It was clichéd but it worked within the context of the story. By dating yourself, and learning to lean in to feeling at one with the person you are becoming, you are winning at life. Love is not just a feeling reserved for romantic relationships with another person, and Goga makes this clear to end on this note.
I definitely recommend catching this show, it’s fun and easy going to watch, and will leave you feeling just that little more connected to whoever you are loving right now.
Love (to) Bits plays Barons Court Theatre until June 25th 2022 – you find your tickets here.