Operation: Love Story

Sat 3rd – Sat 24th August 2013

reviews

Eliza Plowden

at 15:48 on 10th Aug 2013

1agrees

0disagrees

‘Operation: Love Story’ is a touching one-woman show inspired by the belief that we all have a soul mate. Using blackboards to take us through the different stages of her big romantic experiment, Jennifer Williams tells the story of her failed attempts to help people find love. Although this is not an original concept, the show is touching nevertheless; Jennifer is instantly likeable, honestly revealing her feelings as if she were writing a diary entry.

Ever the optimist, Jennifer decides that the man who lives alone in the apartment opposite her is destined for the woman who lives next door to him. After failing to unite the couple on countless occasions, she begins to lose hope. It is easy to identify with the story; Jennifer explains everything thoroughly, drawing examples from well-known movies and taking us step-by-step through her thought processes until she is sure you understand. This enhances her eagerness but significantly slows down the narration, proving rather tiring after an hour.

Beyond the cheesy, lovey-dovey plot line, ‘Operation: Love Story’ is also very funny; Jennifer’s story could be a Hollywood rom-com itself. Some of the jokes are clever, such as a remark about the failure of the Coalition government, whilst a lot of the comedy simply comes from the actress’ skilful interpretation of her character’s naivety. For example, as she dresses up in a tracksuit and balaclava and throws herself across the street to the James Bond soundtrack, we are reminded of the ridiculous Hollywood movies that claim to represent real life.

Pulling off a one-woman show is certainly a challenge, but if the small audience disappointed Jennifer at all, she certainly didn't let it show. Staying in character for the full hour, Jennifer allows her bubbly optimism to wane at the appropriate moments, showing us hints of bitterness and disappointment: a back-story that explains her desperate desire to achieve a successful pairing. Although the show claims authenticity, “everything in this show is completely and utterly true”, the humour frequently comes from the character’s innocent errors, so it is hard to believe that Jennifer is playing herself. Perhaps I simply missed the point, but this ambiguity definitely prevented me from fully identifying with the story.

Overall, Jennifer is to be commended for her performance. Warm, bubbly and eager to please, she perfectly demonstrates the ups and downs of the quest for true love. A lot of effort has clearly gone into the show, and the production was generally very polished. More realistic than the average chick flick, ‘Operation: Love Story’ is an enjoyable show that we can all relate to.

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Rose Bonsier

at 16:48 on 11th Aug 2013

0agrees

1disagrees

Operation: Love Story is an off-the-wall, one woman show about a single woman's quest to instigate and nurture romance between the most unsuspecting of potential couples. Writer and performer Jennifer Williams swears hers is a true tale even though it is ludicrously unbelievable. Whilst the story she tells amounts to something verging on stalking, it is none the less very funny to listen to.

The premise of this tale is that Williams is trying to set up a single man and a single woman who live next to one another in the block of flats across the road from her. It all begins with her watching the two of them intently every morning and noticing the similarity between their routines. She then takes what is to her the logical next move and tries to set them up.

Williams has a rather erratic but at the same time awkward way of telling the story. Although this puts the audience a little bit on edge it is very appropriate and very much in character for the version of herself she is trying to portray in the story. She has clearly considered the audience experience carefully, splitting the story down into manageable sections to make it easy to follow and introducing each one.

At times I was a little unnerved by the tale she told, mainly because her actions and reasoning at points came across as rather obsessive and frankly crazy. This worked very well however and was entirely necessary to move on the plot. Her little anecdotes of the mad actions she went to, such as stealing the woman's handbag so that her male companion would save her, were very amusing.

Overall, I wasn't quite sure whether Williams was being flippant or tounge-in-cheek when she suggested a number of radical opinions. She put forward extreme, but arguably harmless, beliefs such as concluding that if you didn't find a partner in your lifetime you were a failure, and that every possible moment should be sacrificed to the pursuit of an improbable romance. Nevertheless, her assessments were highly amusing, and her character's (I would argue though I'm sure she'd disagree) deluded idealism all added to the mad, if uncomfortable, hilarity of the experience.

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