Six and a Half Loves @ Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

written and performed by
Terry Saunders‘Sweet’ and ‘charming’ arent the most charged of adjectives but theyre the two most fitting descriptors of Terry Saunders low-key but rather lovely exercise in story-telling.

Saunders was the co-founder of the inspired series of comedy gigs, Laughter in Odd Places, in which an eclectic array of comedians gathered in unusual locations including a library and the Museum of London; his solo show consists of series of interlinking tales of love and longing coupled with some endearingly basic animation.
For a show with love in the title it dwells a lot on the ending of things, on rejection and heartbreak. The show focuses on three couples. Sean is besotted with his friend Natalie but has never had the courage to do anything about it, drinking cup after cup of despised Caff Nero coffee in order to spend time in her company while she dates other people; Nigel is still obsessed with his ex, Sue, and keeps mementoes of her strewn about his house; Lenny and Kim are one of those long term perfect couples who suddenly realise that the spark has faded, their break up triggered by an ill-timed quip during an episode of The Apprentice.

As their stories unfold they begin to overlap and intertwine in pleasing and inventive ways. As Saunders switches between protagonists their names are projected on the front of his white T-shirt, a simple but effective way to help separate out the narrative strands.

This is not a show that will make you shriek with laughter; its an altogether gentler thing, full of lines designed to make the audience smile. Some of the writing has a distinctly autobiographical feel and a lot of the details are painfully recognisable. The stories are full of wistful moments, poignant and familiar. Seans particular fantasy, for example, is less about sex than about the morning afterwards and the moment when he wakes up to find the girl he loves emerging from the bathroom wearing his jumper, like in films. He even has a specific jumper in mind.

As charming (theres that word again) as the writing is, the show itself is not wholly successful. Take the animations: as self contained shorts on YouTube these were – and are – quite lovely but in this context they eventually start to split the audiences attention and even begin to prove a little distracting. This is perhaps due to Saunders laconic and conversational style of delivery; at several points he hesitates and falters and, even when he gets back on track, his straightforward style doesnt quite do justice to the elegance, honesty and warmth of the material.

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