Review: Love Song to Lavender Menace 

Edinburgh Fringe
Venue 26, Summerhall until the 26th Aug (Excluding 20th)

Love Song to Lavender Menace is a romcom: two men are about to close the doors of the first LGBT bookshop in Edinburgh for the last time, cleaning while they prepare a homage to the place’s founders. As they look back on the life of the Lavender Menace (the bookshop), they reminisce on their first impressions of each other, men they’ve dated and hated, and they prepare for their final goodbye.

As a political or historical play, nothing felt new or particularly poignant. However, as a romcom it is without fault: full of miscommunications and missed opportunities, lovely lingering looks when the other isn’t looking, drunk-in-love dancing that ends abruptly when it gets a little too close to home. These moments were cute, and hot, and full of emotion, but getting to them was sometimes arduous.

I had no emotional affinity to one strand of the tangential narrative, vignettes of impending tragedy between key scenes as an unnamed, closeted and married-to-a-woman man walks past the Lavender Menace on his lunch break every day. While it is a way of opening up the story, to show the real-world positive effects of the bookshop on the LGB population of Edinburgh, it was infuriatingly male-focused. One reference to a female customer piqued my interest, but she quickly faded into obscurity, which I felt was a shame.

For a bookshop named after a lesbian feminist movement, the play definitely has a male focus – not necessarily a bad thing had the play been a solid romcom, but as a love song to a bookshop, it felt closed off to other queer identities. I thought that the play sometimes made itself seem bigger than it was, but I also thought throughout that I loved the setting, that the characters were full of life and that the acting was top-notch.

© Nemo Martin 2018
Screen Shot 2018-08-15 at 10.46.20

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