You may be drawn to I Lost My Virginity To Chopin’s Nocturne in B-Flat Minor for its interesting, if not particularly snappy title, but what you’ll find is a quick-paced two hander that keeps the audience enthralled from beginning to end.
Presented by Paper Mug Theatre, who have two shows debuting at this year’s fringe, the play realistically grasps the tensions in a relationship, before turning everything on its head. Written by Sebastian Gardner, this sometimes uncomfortably funny play is a searing insight in to modern-day relationships, given an air of authority by director, Ami Okumura Jones deft style.
The stage is littered with discarded clothes, less about indicating a night of passion and more about symbolising the mess that this particular relationship is in. It very astutely captures the differences between Ollie and Laura, not only as a result of their class, but of their attitudes towards life. Ollie is from a privileged background and overcompensates to the point of being offended at every word that comes out of Laura’s mouth, a keen observation on society today.
The first half of I Lost My Virginity To Chopin’s Nocturne in B-Flat Minor is not in fact about those first romantic blossoms, but a hate and spite filled argument played out in real time. This heated and often distressing confrontation tells us more about our characters than any other dramatic device could ever hope to achieve. At points the insults are so vicious you feel yourself recoiling in horror, only to be laughing guiltily in the next moment as the wit of it all bears fruit.
The altercation starts to become a little tiresome, but just as it risks losing the audience’s interest, the play pivots, and in the second half we see a different side to the characters in their first ever conversation (having spent the night together). Here we see how the things they have come to hate about each other, are the things they found endearing in the first place.
Sebastian Gardner and Lily Sinko give outstanding performances which are filled with aggression and emotion, Sinko gets the audience on side in the first half, while Gardner shows the charming side of Ollie in the second. It is really in that second half that the piece comes together, as we see the true vulnerabilities of the characters exposed.
Sebastian Gardner is a truly gifted writer, and one you will want to keep an eye on if your interest is cutting edge theatre. His dialogue bounces back and forth with unabashed vigour and viewed as a whole, I Lost My Virginity To Chopin’s Nocturne in B-Flat Minor is its own symphony of modern theatre, pulling together all of the elements required for a fascinating and intuitive character study.