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Review: Greg Fleet: This is Not a Love Song at Grand Central Underground

By Yona Eagle

From my first looks at the festival guide, I was looking forward to seeing the new incarnation of Greg Fleet’s ‘This is Not a Love Song.’

In 2017, Fleet’s show won an Adelaide Fringe weekly award, however, this time round, audiences are treated to a new cast with Jasmine Fairbairn playing the role of Sophie, and Clayton Storey playing a taller, perhaps more handsome version of Greg, called Jimmy.

This show is a memoir of music and journeys through the intensity of relationship conflicts and the division of a record collection. Whilst it may be just this on the surface – with, I might add, a fabulous soundtrack to boot, especially for a baby boomer like both Greg and myself – the show proves to be so much more as it is performed in snippets with lyrics sung as dialogue that highlights the poignancy within each song that listeners may often miss when hearing them sung in their original version or format.

Kudos must be given to the guitarist, Al Gibson, who played wonderfully and absolutely set the mood…and the era…in his countdown emblazoned black T-Shirt.

Sophie and Jimmy decide to live together after considering how great their record collection would be once combined – one stellar collection! Greg sits at a table with a bottle of rum, doodling with coloured crayons and a game of trouble – a game designed for two players – and aptly named considering what is about to unfold.

Greg is his own Greek chorus – a solo voice who comments on the dramatic action unfolding before us. Like a Greek chorus, he sings and speaks lines (although, I doubt the traditional Greek choruses used quite so many profanities) and his face is mask like as he conceals the true emotions of his past. Any regret that he may feel is hidden by this mask, a mask that only occasionally slips to reveal him looking winsomely at Sophie.

The main conflict that our lovebirds face in their relationship is Jimmy’s overwhelming love and need for marijuana. Jimmy sits at Greg’s table rolling a joint and we see how this addiction to the substance becomes a large boulder in their slowly crumbling love.

For me, a moment where the couple discussed who they would sleep with if they were allowed a ‘pass’ out of the relationship, made up one of my favourite scenes. Jimmy chooses Chrissie Hynde – interestingly also a self-confessed drug user. Sophie chooses Stephen Fry – an interesting choice as well considering Fleet called him the gayest man in the world…so, as the song changes to Daryl Braithwaite’s ‘horses,’ she changes her ‘pass’ to be for him instead. As well as being an entertaining scene, these choices provide such insight into the relationship and the priorities of each individual.

Against an ever changing and consistently relevant soundtrack, we are left to question whether Jimmy has strength to get through this troubling time and addition. It appears not and Jimmy continues to rely on weed despite it causing him to be unmotivated and Sophie to feel as though she is coming in second to his smoking habits.

It is a well known fact that Greg has battled a long standing heroin addiction. In his book, ‘These Things Happen,’ Greg seeks no pity for his decisions. This same attitude is present in this show but appears to be even more cathartic for Greg, despite losing a potential life partner.  

Greg may be telling Sophie and the audience that at this time in his life he was so in love with the drugs he had no further capacity to love someone else or engage in any emotional relationship. All of that said, this show is not downbeat. It is instead a unique way at looking at different aspects of relationships, and it is all set to a soundtrack that you are truly bound to enjoy. 

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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