Where is the love?

Chrissie Fitch MBPsS attends opening night of one-woman comedy musical ‘Lovecraft (Not the Sex Shop in Cardiff)’ at the Soho Theatre in London.

Welsh comedian and star of the evening, Carys Eleri, appropriately sporting a CHOOSE LOVE t-shirt, enveloped each individual in hugs as they entered the theatre. Carys continued to embody the meaning of her name – ‘goddess of love’ – through her stand-up comedy, PowerPoint presentation, and original songs, all of which were grounded in neuroscience.

Carys discussed the ‘loneliness epidemic’, drawing on personal stories about her family and relationships in both London and Wales using prose, innuendos, rap, and other genres of music in order to understand loneliness and how to overcome it. This juxtaposition conveyed a serious message in a light and breezy manner.

In the songs, Addiction and Brain You, Carys described hormones associated with love, including oxytocin as the ‘cwtching’ (hugging, in Welsh) hormone. She depicted the scientific processes within our bodies and minds when love is being crafted, showing that our sense of logic and objectivity are compromised when falling in love.

There were references to cognitive science such as Bruce Alexander’s rat park, the memory fade bias, and the pleasure trap experiment. The song Space and Time lightly covered the controversial debate of pharmaceutical drugs versus therapy. It’s not every day that you get a biological psychology lesson during a trip to the West End!

Carys’ fabulously witty and interactive show was not only educational but also relatable as almost everyone could have experienced some of these situations and feelings at some stage in their lives. Brechtian aspects of the performance allowed us to reflect on our own past relationships and think critically about the points that Carys made. This was made all the more special by the distribution of chocolate during the exploration of hormones, providing first-hand experiences of hormonal changes.

Carys’ act on the pros and cons of navigating social media and internet dating particularly resonated, as reflected in the song, Tinder Ballad. Another poignant aspect of the performance was on the flirting technique ‘negging’ – a shortening of the phrase ‘negative comments’, referring to the narcissistic tendencies and condescending remarks of someone trying to dominate and control their partner. Negging affects self-esteem and triggers obsessive compulsive behaviours. These are ultimately the signs of an unhealthy relationship that we must listen to and find a way to escape from.

This was a truly rare, enlightening and even therapeutic performance. Carys’ take-home message is this: you don’t need a romantic relationship in order to experience love. Love comes from within, and the positive social connections and interactions that help you thrive. Spread kindness. Let’s stop the loneliness epidemic and start a love epidemic. 

- Reviewed by Chrissie Fitch MBPsS (Child Psychology Tutor, London), @fitchy_chris 

Many thanks to Vaidehi Murphy (Primary School Teacher, London) for attending the performance with Chrissie, and contributing to this review, and Gabriel Taylor (Master’s Student and author of a previous review) for proofreading this review.

The album Lovecraft by Carys Eleri is available on Spotify.

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