It looks as though Epic Love and Pop Songs is set up to be a festival favourite; try not to be deceived by its ambiguous flyer that will trick many into thinking it is simply a musical theatre performance. Alternatively, this gem is an honest snapshot of what happens when the youthful innocence of telling white lies takes a turn for the worst. It is simultaneously a playful beacon for a young noughties generation that nowadays just seem to be growing up far too quickly.
We quickly learn the lengths that two platonic friends, Doll and Ted, are willing to go to in order to take a secret one step too far. That is, the familiar trope of feigning teen pregnancy until the third trimester. Upon meeting Doll (played by Norah Lopez Holden), the audience is told that this is ultimately her story, and any interjection from her doting companion is brutally interrupted in a ‘speak-when-spoken-to’, kind of manner. Lopez-Holden succeeds in winning us over as we quickly realise her attention-seeking antics are a true cry for help; she reveals the hurt and frustration of a troubled young girl trying to find her way. This is Éclair-Powell’s melancholy-tinged triumph in releasing her inner child, and showing us that it is ok to do so ourselves.
Instead of shying away from the bumps and bruises that come with the task of transitioning from adolescent to adult, this play bears all. We are handed a hilarious triptych between the likes of Juno, The Perks of a Wallflower and an archetypal day at British secondary school, as Éclair-Powell dips her pen into the ink of several romantic comedies. Although this might seem like a performance for teenage girls, it is probably better suited for the Tracy Beaker-ites of our generation who are nostalgic for their recently departed adolescent years, and should be marketed for a slightly older audience.
The set is spangled and delightfully confused to match Doll’s fantasies; falling nothing short of a sixteen-year-old girl’s sleepover. Scored by the likes of Rihanna and Beyoncé, the soundtrack makes for a perfect antidote to a mid-afternoon slump, and is sure to provide good fun. Upon first impressions this performance may feel a little childish, but Epic Love is laced with tender scenes that are a definite cause for revaluation; we are reminded of our awkward playground efforts in trying to look cool.
To be commended is the well-crafted script, one that is sharp in its ability to narrate a bountiful tale despite there being just two characters on stage. In particular, George Caple does a remarkable job of recounting Doll’s mother’s mid-life-crisis as she attempts to ride the waves of her divorce and support her daughter’s faux-pregnancy. Adorned in a magenta dressing gown and motioning deep inhales on an imaginary cigarette, Caple exhibits his RADA graduate status as he flickers from one persona into the other. Within the explosion of lights, music and dance moves in front of the bedroom mirror is a safe space for the two characters to heartwarmingly confide in the audience.
As always, Edinburgh Fringe lends itself to the power of word-of-mouth, and the reputation of this performance is sure to catch on.