Playbill Pick: Actually, Love at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe | Playbill

Playbill Goes Fringe Playbill Pick: Actually, Love at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

In this Love, Actually-inspired musical, romantic cliches are combined with pop songs to tell this rousing queer love story.

Jordan Broatch and Sam Woof in Actually, Love

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, with nearly 3,500 shows. This year, Playbill is in Edinburgh for the entire month in August for the festival and we’re taking you with us. Follow along as we cover every single aspect of the Fringe, aka our real-life Brigadoon!

As part of our Edinburgh Fringe coverage, Playbill is seeing a whole lotta shows—and we're sharing which ones you absolutely must see if you're only at the Fringe for a short amount of time. Consider these Playbill Picks a friendly, opinionated guide as you try to choose a show at the festival.

Aren’t we all suckers for a classic 90s-early 2000s rom-com? Guilty. However, most of them have left trans/non-binary/queer people out of the narrative, or stereotyped them as the GBF (Gay Best Friend). If the title sounds familiar, flip the words, because it’s inspired by the box-office hit Love, Actually that starred Hugh Grant and Laura Linney. Except this show deconstructs and calls out the predictable plot lines of those “hetero” rom coms and questions what queer love looks like in the 21st century.

The show tracks a reigniting of an old flame between Alex, a songwriter in pursuit of writing a hit love song, and Stevie, an auditioning actor nailing down his next big part in a stereotypical romantic comedy. Alex and Stevie have a palpable chemistry and are played by Sam Woof and Jordan Broatch, respectively. In preparation for Stevie’s audition, the pair playfully work through his sides in the most ostentatious and animated fashion, only to surface old conflicting feelings. Both characters are navigating their gender queerness and Alex also begins exploring their trans identity. The writing is exceedingly clever, candid, and fun.

Woof, who also wrote the piece, serves as the Artistic Director for GOYA Theatre Company, the organization that produced Actually, Love at Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year. The U.K.-based production company is made for and by young queer artists with the mission of creating relevant new queer works. They are also producing the similarly rom-com inspired Four Felons and a Funeral at this year's Fringe.

Most of the songs are supposed to imitate/mock mainstream, formulaic pop songs but are ironically very good and catchy themselves. The punchlines are whip smart and one after the other, just as fast they rattle off criticism of how problematic the labels, expectations, and gender roles those movies perpetuate. In just an hour, the show explores gender fluidity, queerness, heartbreak, and love beyond societal expectations. If this show was a big blockbuster hit, it deserves a sequel.

Actually, Love is running until August 27 at the Pleasance Courtyard, the Green. Get tickets here.

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