Broken Romantics: A Unicorn's Quest For Love

Sat 4th – Sat 25th August 2018

reviews

India Greenland

at 10:14 on 11th Aug 2018

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‘Broken Romantics: A Unicorn’s Quest for Love’ is a fabulous mash up of song, dance, physical theatre and storytelling. As I was greeted at the door of this show by a woman dressed in silver metallic leggings and lipstick, it was clear from the outset that this cabaret show was going to be colourful – and it absolutely was. Described by lead Emma Dean as a ‘mixtape’ of songs about her heartbreaks, this show encompasses all the emotions that falling in love entails.

With haunting, beautiful sad melodies one moment and songs about her eyeball licking fetish the next, this show is an absolute roller coaster of emotions, and will have you falling off your chair laughing and wiping away a tear from one moment to another. The staging is sparse, with just an illuminated cardboard heart of four sections as adornment. This prop is used perfectly to illustrate the emotional charge of the play. With each story that Dean sings or talks about, the ‘heartbreaker’ character Jamie Kendall takes a piece of the heart, a simple but stunning visual.

Dean sings some covers, such as an incredible rendition of 'Elastic Heart', but mostly uses her own music to explore her journey. She switches tone from depressed to vengeful to in love quickly and seamlessly, enabling her to cover everything from her first celebrity crush in 1997 to her recent journey of finding self love.

While Kendall performs some incredible physical theatre and the band and back-up singer performed their parts perfectly, Dean herself is very much the centre of this show. We are also not given any details of the relationships or men who have broken Dean’s heart, allowing the focus to remain solely on her own recovery and growth. She draws on advice from friends (who tell her, “you’re a f***ing unicorn”) in her journey towards falling in love with herself. Her “love song to herself” (which uses plastic guns and lengths of rope as props) where she realises that these absent men hold no power over her anymore is an inspiring and empowering moment.

An absolute character in head to toe rainbow-patterned clothing, Dean’s stunning voice is matched by her stage presence and charisma. She’s also absolutely hilarious. Whether it’s as ‘compere’ of her cabaret, singing some of her more outrageous songs, just doing her one-liners or winks, there’s much more to this show than just the music.

'Broken Romantics' a highlight of the Fringe – everyone should see this show. The hour you'll spend here is so positive that I walked from my flat to the venue complaining about the cold and rain and walked home awed by the beautiful Edinburgh sunset. Men in Dean’s past may have complained about her “light," (Dean's word for her sparkle and positivity) but her lucky audiences at the fringe certainly will not. You’ll leave this show feeling absolutely empowered and ready to take on the world, and with the confidence that you too, are a unicorn.

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Eleanor Gunn

at 10:23 on 11th Aug 2018

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The show began with a breath-taking cover of ‘elastic-heart’. Dean, accompanied by her band the Broken Romantics, silenced the audience and made the hairs on the back of my neck tingle. It is rare to see a performer put quite so much of their soul into a song, and the rest of the performance followed through with that same incredible energy.

Over the course of the show we are told a tale in an eclectic mix of songs (both original and covers), dance, and the spoken word. It was a true cabaret of incredible talent, with absolutely no spare or faulty parts. After the opening song Dean lays bare to her audience the motivation behind the creation of her wonderful show: heartbreak. The motivation for many a tale, yet Dean was able to make it fresh, funny and without a hint of self-pity.

She leads her audience through her journey of love with her. It could very easily have been a total cheese-fest (and there were admittedly moments of this) but instead the atmosphere was poignant yet cheeky. Dean is a powerhouse and has chosen to attack life with a light which is truly inspiring, a light which shines through in her songs and stories.

So where does the Unicorn come in? Well, she’s sat at the piano, encouraging all of those who see her that they can find their own inner unicorn. I was expecting a funny jaunt through a love life, and yet was shown instead that loving yourself is far more important than any of that. The stand out song, ‘I Am a Fucking Unicorn’, was a half hilarious (how could it not be with a title like that?) half feisty fight song. Raw and real and full of personality, all the ingredients for a perfect song and show.

'Broken Romantics' simple staging added to the effect. There were few props save the instruments, and few changes to the stage through-out the show. This allows the heart on centre-stage, which has pieces slowly removed from it, to take hold of the audience's focus. The band, Dean and the talented physical theatre performer Jamie Kennel effortlessly toy with our emotions and have left me, and I’m sure the rest of the audience, inspired.

It is not often in the world of today that people choose to make the best of bad situations, and even rarer for people to make something beautiful from it, but 'Broken Romantics' did just that. I applaud the Broken Romantics crew, and wish them all the luck in the rest of the Fringe. I hope as many people as possible will go see this show. You will leave ready to take on the world – and who doesn’t want that?

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