By Rose Mckean
With Doll on the mic and Ted on backing vocals, Epic Love and Pop Songs tells the intertwined narrative of two lost teenagers, caught in a storm of lies and familial disorder. Armed with a carefully cultivated attitude and a baby bump that demands attention, Doll drags us through her unravelling tale. What begins as a comedic spin on the familiar teen pregnancy trope gradually unfurls into a more nuanced depiction of internalised trauma.
Director Eleanor Hibbert has raised this young play to a mature and understanding production. The trope of the pregnant teenager has been recycled to the point of cliché. However, paired with Eclair-Powell’s wonderful script, this production combines an ephemeral charm with moments of deep emotion that will give you the catharsis of a really great pop song.
Two remarkable performances are at the heart of this production. Aisling Lally deftly handles Doll’s quick-witted narration and brings a genuine depth and sensitivity to her emotional moments. Doll’s compulsive lies must be countered by a genuine understanding of her inner truths and Lally lives these moments with a tear-jerking sincerity.
Mitchell Siddons also delivered an astonishingly sympathetic performance as the somewhat slow-witted, but deeply caring Ted. His movement from comedic innocence to heart-wrenching despair is performed with seamless virtuosity. Morphing into a variety of characters, most memorably his convincing rendition of Doll’s mother, Ted becomes more than a pawn in Doll’s game.
Despite a few technical mishaps the play continued with seamless professionalism. Indeed, the sparkling fluorescent set and lighting instilled the barn with the pervasive atmosphere of a cheesy high-school disco, fittingly accompanied by Beyoncé’s Drunk In Love, a quintessential soundtrack to adolescent love.
Overall, this production was a refreshing take on a well-known trope, presenting in its place a subtle and compassionate study of two incredibly complex characters. Though Doll introduces herself as “that teenage girl you all know and won’t sit next to at the back of the bus” the audience finds that appearances can be deceiving. Indeed, I am not certain we ever truly get to know her. Nevertheless, her story is well worth the listen.