Love Song to Lavender Menace is an endearing performance about an LGBT bookshop in 1980s Edinburgh.
It tells the story of an LGBT bookshop that has been forced to close due to the oncoming tide of commercialism (and Waterstones). The story focuses on Lewis (owner of the bookshop ‘Lavender Menace’) and his assistant as they pack away their beloved books and enact memories of their friendship before dawn.
Having staged the play, not in the Lyceum itself, but in one of the smaller spaces above the Chinese restaurant over the road – combined with the minimal set – the audience is left to focus on two actors. The self deprecating humour of the play gives it real charm, “I quite like Waterstones,” says the character of the assistant to Lewis after he had given a dramatic speech about the unstoppable inevitability of heartless commercialisation of the song ‘Don’t leave me this way’ by Sarah Jane Morris.
Yet, the endearing humour is balanced by the chilling story line, with the shutting down of Edinburgh’s nightlife being chillingly relevant today.
The use of lighting is particularly effective as the lights clearly illuminate the books present upon the stage, starting with many books but with the novels gradually disappearing throughout the play as the morning draws closer until, symbolically, the last light is extinguished. Contrary to the diminishing books, the characters’ relationship grows and grows throughout the play as they come to realise how much they care about each other and the characterisation of these roles is effortless.
The play is set in the 1980s, an era that is portrayed by intelligent use of its music and costume. One of the most charming moments of the play is the realisation that the bookshop, ‘Lavender Menace’, really existed in the 1980s on Forth Street. This gives the play a whole new heart and meaning. However, the script is not as smooth as one would like.
A very simple idea but portrayed in a thought provoking, funny and quirky way, this performance is thoroughly enjoyable. Even though it is set in Edinburgh, Love Song to Lavender Menace could achieve the same, joyful reaction from the audiences across the country.
Love Song to Lavender Menace
Runs until 21 October
Photo Credit: Aly Wight