Bloody Elle is a musical love story told through the musical talent of writer, composer and performer Lauryn Redding who plays the title character Elle.
At the heart of the story is the blossoming romance between two young girls grappling with their feelings and circumstances which tugs at your heartstrings. Set to an original score, the simple yet powerful songs from Elle’s perspective were sincere and emotional, making the audience also feel the weight of the feelings Lauryn portrays.
The show opens with a prologue song about hating prologues in a northern, charming voice with plenty of knowing winks to the audience who respond enthusiastically, smashing through the fourth wall. This set up the expectations for the story, we are part of the experience and encouraged to join in as such.
Upon seeing the music looping station, you would be forgiven for assuming the entire show was going to be filled by that genre of music but will then be pleasantly surprised by the range and mix of scores and instruments used to convey the feeling of the moment thanks to Sound Designer Alexandra Faye Braithwaite.
Elle is a confident charming girl who relishes in sharing her perspective on her life in her northern hometown and is very content getting by working in the ‘Chip and Dip’, living in a high rise and playing music whenever she can. This all comes crashing down when we are introduced to Eve, also played by Lauryn, Elle’s opposite in every way. Elle translates these new strange feelings into music, the only thing she really understands, hitting notes you would expect on a West End play. The song ‘Stop the World’ is particularly electric with meaning and emotion.
Lauryn manages to singlehandedly whizz through a carousel of characters including her mum, Welsh boss, laddy love rival, best mate, popular girl and of course her own love interest, posh Eve, bringing to life different funny personalities and accents to match. The settings are visually told through the smoothly crafted lighting designer Mark Distin Webster who is able to jump between the warm orange glow of a sunset, a bowling alley party or the inner feelings of Elle.
Every inch of the stage is used to Lauryn’s advantage, even with such a small space designed by Amanda Stoodley, we are able to withhold our disbelief and immerse ourselves into the different backdrops where the blossoming romance plays out.
Music, spoken word and light all work effortlessly together to transport the audience back to the highs and lows of first love, touching on topics such as class, systemic homophobia and young dreams.
Although Bloody Elle followed the expected story beats of a British LGBTQ+ romance, it was well-thought out and staged by Director Bryony Shanahan, and portrayed a realistic earnest exploration of love many of us can relate to all too well.