Bloody Elle: A Gig Musical – Traverse Theatre

Written, Composed & Performed by Lauryn Redding

Directed by Bryony Shanahan

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Maybe it’s the misery deep down, but we’re sick to the back teeth of shmaltzy romances and gooey eyes. Where songs burst with the chipper of lovebirds, and the watery thin narrative makes way for jukebox musical melodies and antics. Lauryn Redding’s Bloody Elle isn’t one of those love stories. 

The blisteringly magnificent identity of Bloody Elle and the frankness and tender way in which love is explored – even dissected, crammed full of those difficult-to-capture butterfly moments means one thing: this is gig theatre that channels beauty into the intimate and sweat-stained pits of the audience. And we’re here for every moment of it.

Meet Elle. She lives in the clouds, by which we mean a high-rise block of flats. Her mum does he best to make ends meet and battle her depression, and Elle makes do working in the local Chip n Dip. But when she comes home and ascends into the heights to take in the disrobing sky, transcending from blooming oranges to rich maroons and twinkling blacks. These nights mean everything to Elle, as does her music.

But everything. Absolutely everything changes when Elle meets Eve.

Bloody Elle is a proud show. A loud, proud, and in moments quite vicious in the vulnerability writer and performer Lauryn Redding exposes herself to audiences through the medium she commands best – songwriter and instrumentals. Comprising original numbers, every track has a place of merit within the structure of the story – from the sombre notes of worries of unrequited feelings to the struggles of opening about her sexuality, and of course the power ballads of intense emotion.

Scattered, Bryony Shanahan works a physicality for Redding to climb and limber over Amanda Stoodley’s design which nails the gig culture (though with space to play the instruments). It’d be difficult not to spill your pint over, so kudos to Redding and the production team for emulating the environment well, Shanahan’s direction aiding Redding in using her body in tandem with her voice, the fluidity rather hypnotic as reinforcing for displaying her intentions and emotions. 

Had this been any other production, the ending would not work. Yet, after embarking on such a rich and well-structured story, where those rare ‘moment’s moment’ becomes ever so clear, Redding’s tale ends with the bitterness of reality. A dynamic reminder that love is a bitch, which has no regard for fairy tales or expectations, and often, hurts more than any joy it may have brought. 

Bloody Elle indeed.

Blisteringly magnificent

Bloody Elle – A Gig Musical runs at the Traverse Theatre until August 28th

Tickets for which may be obtained here.

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