Arriving at the Vaults Theatre in Waterloo, passing through the graffiti tunnels at Leake Street that I’d heard about but never seen, it was clear we were in for an interesting time. It was teeming with people for the Vault Festival, and there was a lot going on, with ribbons and shiny things and lights everywhere. We were ushered into the theatre itself, right at the back of the Vaults. It’s a fairly small space, tucked into the railway arches, and, with the darkness and the trains rumbling overhead, it felt very intimate and cosy. The stage was dimly lit, decorated with a banner and heart shaped balloons, and occupied by a woman in a red coat, with a heart for a head. We had no real idea what we were about to see.
It turns out that Frieda, unlucky in love, used to run a deli, but something bad happened, so she spends her time eating fondant fancies, while dressed as one (which looks less comfortable than you might think). Until one of them speaks to her. His name is Merv, and he needs Frieda to save the world from A Dark Force, and help people to remember how to love again.
With wigs and costumes galore – and I mean galore – a ukulele, some volunteers from the audience, and her trusty assistant Chloe, Frieda Loves Ya took us on a quest with Merv. There’s song, there’s dance, there’s fairy lights, there’s shock, there’s delightful silliness, and there are moments of sincerity that underpin the whole show. The influence of burlesque in the show is clear, and it’s done in a refreshing way, and doesn’t feel like it’s developed to appeal to the male gaze at all, which was wonderful. Rebecca Kenny as Frieda is absolutely charming, with exquisite comic timing and a real knack for getting the audience to react to her, so we were all laughing out loud, cooing at the sad parts and clapping enthusiastically. The overall feeling is of delight, and hope, which is exactly what we need in these difficult times.
We left with huge smiles on our faces, cheeks aching, absolutely full of joy, and feeling that maybe, just maybe, Frieda and her ukulele-playing fondant fancy could just save the world.
This production has now closed, but be sure to follow: @Frieda_Love for updates on future shows.
©Alice Stringer 2017