Review: Ain’t No Female Romeo (Edinburgh Fringe, online)

When conservationist Peter abruptly stops posting his exotic photos from his Serbian life to Instagram, a thirty-something woman decides she has to find him. Part detective story, part exploration of what we really mean when we engage with others on social media, Ain’t No Female Romeo takes its inspiration from the story of Romeo and Juliet.

Presented mainly in the form of video diaries, this becomes a journey which verges on obsession. It’s an engaging and moving story about a woman ghosted by what she interprets as a lost love, using the occasional line from Shakespeare’s text alongside hashtags, film and still images, snatches of music, illustrations and more.

At just under an hour, this monologue is well-delivered by writer-performer Lita Doolan (I previously reviewed her The Wyre Lady of Fleetwood at the Brighton Fringe), who has created a piece which takes a wry look at the Bard’s most famous love story with a modern eye and considerable invention. There are no flashy bits of filming here, but we completely invest in this woman as she continues her search.

Promotional image for Ain't No Female Romeo

With a hint of desperation and a lot of reflection, the story evolves in quickfire style, with words and images seeming very transient, just as they are on internet platforms like Snapchat and TikTok. The overall effect is of a woman who has lost her sense of reality; a woman who has projected her need for validation onto this one Instagrammer; a searcher who has become stalker without even knowing it.

There are moments when this woman’s behaviour is genuinely frightening and disturbing; others where you completely understand how empty her life has been. Doolan’s play is well-structured, thought-provoking, and of the moment.

Fringe rating: ****

You can stream Ain’t no Female Romeo on YouTube, via the Edinburgh Festival Fringe: book your ticket here. For more on Lita Doolan Productions visit her website.