What do you want to be remembered for? Eve is delivering the funeral oration for Aunty Sue. Eve tells us Sue worked in catering all her life and will be remembered for her coronation chicken and raspberry cheesecake. Eve starts to wonder what someone would say about her. She’s 31, works in telesales, lives with her boyfriend in Wolverhampton, has a cat. She sees a future of only being remembered as a wife and mother (her boyfriend wants several kids; we never hear if this is something Eve wants too) stretching out before her. She decides to take a promotion and move to London.
In London, after an initial honeymoon period, Eve finds herself increasingly isolated. Her colleagues exclude her from their social plans, she lives with awful flatmates who never clean up after themselves, a man shouts at her for skipping a queue she didn’t see for the self-checkouts. So far, so relatable. But then Eve’s story goes in an unexpected direction. She finds a letter addressed to Michael Fassbender and embarks on a quest to deliver it to him personally so they can be best friends. She concocts an increasingly elaborate fantasy life so she can show Michael how compatible they are. She learns German, takes up heavy metal and buys armfuls of peonies from his favourite market stall.
Lydia Larson’s monologue, which she also performs, is keenly observed and very funny. Her writing is at its strongest when she allows it to go on flights of fantasy, as Eve concocts outlandish identities on the fly in her pursuit of Fassbender – Svetlana, a film stunt double, who’s arranged to meet Michael Fassbender at a flower market; a woman taking a language class in order to join her tree-surgeon fiancée in Germany. Larson has spoken in interviews about how unusual it is to hear a regional accent onstage, and how self-conscious that made her negotiating actor training and working in the theatre industry (https://www.femalefirst.co.uk/culture/lydia-larson-finding-fassbender-1153193.html). She says she was expected to put on an RP accent to be considered for serious roles. In Finding Fassbender, Larson speaks in her own voice – her warm Wolverhampton tones and her offbeat humour. (She does lots of other voices too, in her creation of a host of supporting comic characters). Finding Fassbender is about the fantasy lives we build to survive and how can find ourselves through them. Although its narrative arc of learning to be happy with who you are is familiar, the show is beguiling in the warmth of Larson’s writing and performance.
Finding Fassbender is on at Pleasance until 27th August, as part of the 2018 Edinburgh fringe. More info here.