Soho Theatre, Soho, London. 26/02/2020.
After hugging everyone on entry, Carys Eleri informs us at the very start of the show that she’s in the love business, that she feels this way about every single one of us, and how, admittedly coincidentally, her name actually translates in to English as “Love Goddess”. All of which might sound like a slightly hippyish beginning to a comedy show, but this is actually a heavily science based hour with a hint of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity as Eleri tells us about past relationships while all the time explaining what was going on with her body, and more notably her brain, at the time.
It’s a show which feels a little like a Ted Talk with songs as she discusses the effect that Oxytocin, Serotonin, Dopamine and various other chemicals have upon you when you’re rather enamoured with someone. And it’s also a little gimmicky in places, like when she hands out chocolate to everyone in the audience so they can experience a rise in serotonin, and after explaining how Oxytocin is the cuddle hormone she gets everyone in the audience to hug each other, but Eleri has such charm that it’s mostly not an issue even if there’s no real need for such moments.
The best parts of the set are where she discusses her past relationships, firstly with the amusingly named Eddie Pie fingers (as he had his fingers in lots of pies and not that he had alarmingly shaped digits, sadly), giving funny examples of what it was like to be in love for the first time and how the changes in the brain cause you to do things that you might not necessarily normally do (like sex in the A&E department), while the way she talks about her second relationship with a guy who was a bit of a dickhead is filled with stark but honest observations, most of which creates a lot of laughter.
The final third of the show isn’t quite as strong as what came before unfortunately though, certain parts work effectively and there’s a great bit of audience participation as she demonstrates what online dating in the tinder era is like, but when the show comes to a close with a few observations about the dangers of loneliness, while an important message it feels a little obvious and rushed, and could have benefited from being examined in further depth.
As well as witty observations Eleri has a number of songs about the situations she found herself in, she undoubtedly has a stunning voice and a good few of them are bloody funny too. A highlight is one about how it’s the brain not the heart that causes her to feel love, while another about online dating is packed with very witty observations, and best of all is a tune which includes her mother’s observations about Eleri’s life. There are a couple which are a bit weak though, a very brief song about rejection is too simplistic to deserve a call back, and one about a threesome is frustratingly repetitive.
There’s a lot here to admire then, but the quality does fluctuate a little bit too much, while some of Eleri’s observations are very, very smart and funny a couple of them feel slightly pointless or a bit on the nose, while the the Science element is unfortunately lacking in the latter part of the hour. These aren’t serious issues in any way though, and with a little tightening up it could go from being a good show to a great one.
Lovecraft (Not The Sex Shop In Cardiff) is on at the Soho Theatre until Saturday, with dates planned later on in the year afterwards which you can find about on her twitter page.