As part of last weekend’s immersion in the Festival of Voice, I managed to catch Carys Eleri’s co-production of Lovecraft (Not the Sex Shop in Cardiff) at the Wales Millennium Centre. Described as ‘a one-woman-science-comedy-music show’ it felt like a tall order. My combination of having no grasp of science and a questionable sense of humour made me consider lowering my expectations.
It was though in good spirits I arrived and left Lovecraft (Not the Sex Shop in Cardiff). I can’t help but think if science lessons at school were taught in the same style maybe we’d improve take up of STEAM subjects. Whilst science plays a complete part in this show, it is the creation of a feeling (no doubt caused by those pesky ‘tonins) which creates the feel-good. Carefully curated within difficult and real stories.
Much of the content focuses around Eleri’s own experiences, through an autobiographical tour. In doing so, empathy is created, focusing on the highs and lows of love and relationships. Whilst the title references a particular shop in Cardiff, this jaunt through life is very much focused on the basis of love rather than sex. Eleri maintains a self-deprecating approach to her personal stories which enables the science to be easily absorbed. This isn’t a lecture, but an incorporation of science and life. And through Lauren Orme’s animation design and memorable pop and rap, I kept up with the science. First time ever.
From understanding that Eleri truly is her namesake “Love Goddess” the audience become immersed. Creating learning by doing, we were encouraged to appreciate the benefit of a cwtch and evoking memories of our first love. Eleri’s storyline takes us through the recall of turbulent relationships, heavy nights on the town, and into the world of internet dating.
There is much familiarity – especially with the joy of the magic taxi. Eleri’s mix of science and life enables an easy appreciation that sometimes relationships are dire. And it is this which is balanced with the message that more kindness in our lives will always be appreciated.So, whilst I’m never going to get the respect of all the science graduates at work who scorn on my arts degree, I’m happy to become a complete advocate of a show which can get me conversant with oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine. And yes, Eleri convincingly advocates that we really should move to a position of “I brain you”. Because our heart really has little to do with the intangibility of love.
Eleri provides a unique a combination of narration. Taking the spoken word into ballad, to rap, to pop – there is much fun to engage in Eleri’s story. With director, Mared Swain, the audience deftly receives everything offered. This is a diverse performance delivered to a balance of the senses, maintaining enjoyment.
The show leaves you with a sense of fun. An appreciation that life and love requires so much bravery and hope to survive. But with kindness, we’ll all be ok.