Home » London Theatre Reviews » I Lost My Virginity To Chopin’s Nocturne In B-Flat Minor | Review

I Lost My Virginity To Chopin’s Nocturne In B-Flat Minor | Review

Ollie (Sebastian Gardner) is in full flow as the show opens, and while Laura (Anouche-Alana Chokarian) is holding her ground, there’s no stopping this articulate motormouth from making his views known. It would, I imagine, be exhausting to be on the receiving end of his lines of argument – but, from the outside looking in, it’s shocking and hilarious in equal measure. It’s not quite as simple as someone speaking without thinking, as it’s evident, at least at face value, that there is something deep and meaningful in the couple’s relationship for him to be quite so forthright in the first place. But – such is the way of many a modern play – the narrative doesn’t start at the beginning and doesn’t finish at the end.

I Lost My Virginity To Chopin's Nocturne In B-Flat MinorIt’s a little like watching the second half of a movie and then going back to watch the first half: one still understands it all in the end. There isn’t, fortunately, or unfortunately, a pants-down demonstration of the play’s title (or even a sample of the said piece of music, although the conversation is dense and free-flowing, with occasional pauses whenever one of them needs to take a breather, allowing the audience to proverbially come up for air too.

When I look at you, I feel f—k all,” snaps Laura, one of several lines that elicits gasps, even from this unassuming London audience. The play is, as a fellow theatregoer pointed out afterwards, “very London”, with references to the South Bank, Camden and Clapham, and food deliveries at unearthly hours of the night. At the centre of the couple’s disagreement is (ostensibly) Ollie’s treatment of Laura’s parents during a night out to dinner: the details of who said what to whom are, in the end, not nearly as important as the implications of Ollie’s argumentative stance, and what it could possibly mean for the couple’s future.

My mum likes you an adequate amount”, Ollie diplomatically tells Laura. The humour is fierce, with a narrative that covers a huge range of topics, some of which are dealt with rather unconventionally: Ollie’s take on issues such as toxic masculinity and whether the couple are getting enough bedroom activity had me in stitches. Opposites attract, so they say, and while the stark differences between the two might be more than a little contrived – he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, she is from a ‘working class’ background (whatever that means) – it makes for riveting theatre.

Both characters are gloriously complex, and thus incredibly human. Laura finds Ollie’s Achilles heel – the man with an opinion on everything can never give an immediate answer to Laura’s straightforward question about what he is thinking about whenever he sports a certain pensive look on his face. The production holds a mirror up to certain sections of society that are too easily offended by remarks that might not have been articulated in the most sensitive manner but were nonetheless never made with malicious intent. Both actors put in fully committed and engaging performances in a show filled from start to finish with a bold yet thoughtful take on both the euphoric and destructive natures of the power of love.

5 Star Rating

Review by Chris Omaweng

Ollie and Laura are coming home after a meal with Laura’s parents, and they’ve been arguing for quite a while. Maybe they’ve been arguing for hours. Maybe they’ve been arguing for years. Maybe they’ll be together forever.

I Lost My Virginity To Chopin’s Nocturne In B-Flat Minor
By Sebastian Gardner

Paper Mug present:
I LOST MY VIRGINITY TO CHOPIN’S NOCTURNE IN B-FLAT MINOR
The last night of a dysfunctional relationship precedes its one-night stand beginnings in this bittersweet
heartbreak comedy.

Written by Sebastian Gardner
Directed by Ami Okumura Jones
Produced by Sam Edmunds
The VAULTS, 21st August 2021.
https://www.papermugtheatre.com/

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