We’ve probably all had our hearts broken at some stage or another, but to make a show about it takes some guts, and so does sharing some of your most intimate sexual encounters with a bunch of strangers. But it seems effortless for Tara Rankine, who spends the hour of Love is a Work in Progress welcoming us in to her heart, so we can experience her own ups and downs in love and friendship first hand.
Traditional theatre seating at The Space has been replaced with a cabaret style set up, with groups of chairs surrounding tables. Cue typical British politeness as people motion towards an empty seat “would you mind if I…” It sets the tone nicely, allowing for some small talk with your fellow audience members while waiting for the show to begin, and when it does, it now feels like a friendlier, more intimate affair.
Tara uses a very natural and honest style to share various stories with her audience, it never really feels like she’s working from a script, it’s more like she’s one of us, only with far more explicit small talk. It all starts off a bit rowdy as Tara coaxes us into a group swear, before sharing details of one-night stands and casual lovers. The storytelling becomes more poignant as she describes the man “she became addicted to” and shares heartfelt memories of her best friend in Australia.
There is a degree of audience participation, something I’ve usually managed to avoid until my cherry was well and truly popped during this performance. Taking on the role of ‘awkward Ed Fringe guy’, I found myself in a variety of compromising situations, it may have been a little awkward for me but everyone else seemed to find it hilarious. It actually wasn’t that bad, Tara had created an atmosphere where the shackles of embarrassment were long gone, and negativity had literally been blown out the front door.
Alongside the tales of sexual highs and lows are a couple of self-penned songs, each with a special meaning and their own place in proceedings. The songs are beautifully sung, and became the surprise highlight of the performance, it again felt spontaneous and natural, with Olivia Rafferty appearing from the audience and casually sitting on a stool as she provided the musical accompaniment.
The various elements of Love is a Work in Progress didn’t necessarily come together in the shape of one cohesive narrative, but I suppose that doesn’t happen in real life either, and just like real-life we get to experience tender moments alongside the hilarity, and there’s plenty of that too. Tara Rankine creates a very relaxed and enjoyable environment as she demonstrates that love really is a work in progress, yet it’s impossible not to love her style of welcoming inclusivity wrapped in care-free abandon.
Love is a Work in Progress is at The Space Tuesday 2nd, Thursday 4th and Saturday 6th October 2018 at 8pm.