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Fed up of being let down by men, who leave her sitting on her own in dining establishments anyway, Shae elects to start dating herself.

Review: Shaedates: or how I learned to love myself

Sam Bennett on another offering from Oxford Playhouse and the Old Fire Station’s Off Beat Festival – a story about loving yourself
Sam Bennett on another offering from Oxford Playhouse and the Old Fire Station’s Off Beat Festival – a story about loving yourself

"She moves rapidly through her 55 minutes on stage without baffling us or rushing things"

Last year I reviewed Reading Festival, highlighting in the process the difficulty I have in attending events on my own.

 

At Reading I proved to myself that I could do it, but a year on would I be happy going out to a restaurant without a companion? I’m not so sure.

This is exactly what the protagonist in Shaedates: or how I learned to love myself deliberately ends up doing. Fed up of being let down by men, who leave her sitting on her own in dining establishments anyway, she elects to start dating herself.

On 24th June, Shaelee Rooke brought the show to the Old Fire Station as part of Off Beat Festival Oxford, before taking it to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Revealing a sweet and bubbly persona and sporting a Jackson Pollock inspired top, Rooke is able to make you forget that there is only her on the stage. Vivid descriptions lead you to thinking there is another person opposite her as she sits alone at a restaurant table.

At the same time the performer transports us back to reality with cleverly crafted lines such as: “the mirror fell off the wall and Shae was gone.”

She moves rapidly through her 55 minutes on stage without baffling us or rushing things, just keeping us absorbed. Laughs come in a variety of ways, be it a corny joke about how a painting the character had once liked turns out to be “a load of Pollocks”, or a parody of those eateries where everything is two for one – the concept is taken further here, the amount of seats you book is doubled, as is the number of waiters that serve you.

Bar the occasional faltering on lines, this is a simple idea fluently executed, and to an audience not made up of that many people, something I suspect can be more daunting than performing to a crowd of thousands.

- Sam Bennett

 

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