Following her 2021 debut confessional show, Skank, Clementine Bogg-Hargroves is back this Edinburgh Fringe with the irreverent and fun Please Love Me. Flipping between comedic club classics renditions, crude humour, teen romance nostalgia, and devastating recollections of sexual harassment, Please Love Me offers up so much to love.
Throughout the show, following various confessional segments, Bogg-Hargroves poses the question, ‘Am I right?’, approaching an audience member for a high-five, before retreating with a cheeky ‘Love ya!’. From its first initiation, we see our playful protagonist clearly, in all her societally induced shame and obsession with validation. She is immediately likeable and there is nothing to hold us back from being concerned about her.
At its core, Please Love Me is a reflection on how to balance loving yourself and someone else. Bogg-Hargroves starts at the beginning of her history with men: from losing her virginity to an unmemorable French boy on summer camp (Pierre? Claude? Jean Valjean?) to meeting the notorious Ben at sixteen doing doughnuts in a Tesco car park. It is this latter on-and-off relationship with the unanimous dickhead that shapes her twenties and fuels her feelings of worthlessness. There wasn’t a moment more poignant than Bogg-Hargroves confronting Ben for using her only for him to callously retort: ‘But you are a stripper’.
Please Love Me explores how objectification alters according to different contexts with slippery nuance. Utilising her body for performance is both freeing and self-limiting for Bogg-Hargroves. In the show, she performs elegantly on the pole, capturing different emotional extremes in welcomed interludes. And yet she ruminates on the difficulties of containing the voyeurism she experiences in her work as a stripper to her job. In a new elevation, she recounts the harassment she and her fellow female friends experienced whilst on their year abroad in Amman, Jordan.
This harrowing darkness and all of the questions left unanswered are couched in moments of comedy that reassure us that Bogg-Hargroves possesses enough distance from her many traumatic life events to laugh about them. Whilst some physical humour didn’t quite hit for me, details of nostalgic teenage naivety were relatably funny. Best of all, though, were the half-parody, half-earnest pop songs integrated into the piece featuring laugh-inducing backup vocals and dance moves from director Zoey Barnes. The unwanted pregnancy banger, ‘Get Rid of It’ is still on repeat in my head.