Greg Fleet: This is not a love song is testament to how valuable the skillset is that comes from a life spent honing stand up comedy.
In this beautifully crafted piece of theatre, Greg employs tight, comic structure in the dialogue, along with ruthless openness as his character reflects upon, and replays memories of, joyful and painful “performances” in his relationship with “Sophie”.
Through the simple device of having Greg on stage as narrator while Jasmine Fairbairn (Sophie) and Clayton Storey (Greg’s character) reenact scenes spanning the birth, life, struggles, and death of a relationship, we catch glimpses of ourselves and our masks.
A central theme in this must-see theatre is, we all lie. And we do. But not always with malice. As we see in This is not a love song, we use lies to protect our hearts from too much exposure to hurt; a well meaning mechanism but one that is ultimately flawed.
At one point in the play, Greg’s character asks Sophie to tell him something she’d never told him before. It’s timing temporarily arrests the downward slide toward distance in the relationship and it is a reminder to all of us that simple, exploratory questions (the stuff of the first days of a relationship) are still needed in an established one. In fact, they might be vital. Unexpected questions, asked out of curiosity and love, can surprise partners and edge them closer.
But why should such novel questions and “play” grab my attention; is it just me yearning for the “emotional hit” of a new relationship? Greg’s character thinks so, opining at one point that we celebrate the wrong things when it comes to relationships. As he argues, our culture is drawn towards the new but really should be paying respect to the established.
The ensemble all contributed to directing this piece with many subtle and thoughtful touches throughout; note the actors’ positioning on the bed as their relationship traverses different states of bondedness and distance.
The performance is accompanied by guitar and the players all sing, yes, even Greg Fleet. Many iconic songs are woven into the story, propelling the narrative. Split Enz’ Message To My Girl captures the fundamental wrong turns our couple takes as they try to keep things light instead of falling headlong into a deep relationship.
And new life and profundity is breathed into Men At Work’s Overkill. This lesser known song is given delicate treatment at an important point in the story. In many ways, its line, “ghosts appear and fade away”, is the gist of this haunting work by Greg Fleet.
This is pure Fringe for those game enough to interrogate the heart with tough questions and no fear of admitting to blame.