Filling a late-night time slot at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe is Lauren Gauge’s The Unmarried. Gauge initially transports us to a university club night, where party girl Luna (Gauge) is out on the pull. What develops is a poetic monologue (if I were a better poet I’d write this review in verse, too) written as well as performed by Gauge, that follows lycra-clad Luna from a one-night-stand into a seven year relationship with a guy called Pete.
Luna is the sole present character on stage, but she’s not the only performer; beatboxer Haydn-Sky Bauzon and singer Georgia Bliss perform club classics that form the soundtrack to the show. While Bliss is not always note-perfect, hearing these familiar anthems live – think Gala’s ‘Freed From Desire’ and Nelly’s ‘Hot in Herre’, for scope – gives The Unmarried its edge. Director Niall Phillips has Bauzon and Bliss aid Gauge’s narrative; like her guardian angels, they listen in on her conundrums, shaking their heads in disapproval, dressing her or lifting her up to the stars when she describes an emotional high.
Barely have we left the club before Luna’s leotard is smothered with an apron, and she and Pete have bought a flat together. The pair hardly even fancy each other anymore but are outside – in spite of their hangovers – fixing the garden fence. Luna cries that she’s “24 years and 7 months young!” and the realisation kicks in that they have become ‘the unmarried’. Songs are perfectly paired with Luna’s emotions throughout The Unmarried, and as she ponders whether this is all there is to adulthood, Bliss matches her emotions in singing Rozalla’s ‘Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)’.
If I hadn’t already seen Yolanda Mercy’s Quarter Life Crisis this Fringe, I think I would have been more swept away by The Unmarried. It’s not that Gauge’s show is inauthentic – in fact, the story that unfolds here is one I’ve witnessed happening to friends (and seen from oversharing acquaintances on Facebook) many times since leaving university. Both shows follow a female millennial attempting to navigate adulthood in their mid-twenties, and both do so through poetry, beats and relatable experiences. But there was something raw, gritty and from-the-heart about Quarter Life Crisis, which I just didn’t always get from this beat-filled story.
The Unmarried is on until 28 August 2017 at Underbelly. Click here for more details.