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You Only Live Forever at Soho Theatre | Review

Roxy and Alys
Roxy and Alys

If you’re not going to make it to the Edinburgh Fringe this year and you’re hankering for that special sense of satisfaction and excitement you get when you behold proper talent being properly funny at the start of promising careers, make sure you get down to the Soho Theatre tonight for the final performance of You Only Live Forever at 9pm.

Part-drama, part-sketch, Roxy Dunn and Alys Metcalf reveal all the hallmarks of a great comedy duo, both as writers and performers. Comparisons to many of the great women of British comedy may come to mind but with Dunn’s role both in character as Olga and while sending herself up as a pompous lecturer, and with Metcalf playing the eternally-young Imogen (‘Imi’) and mocking herself as an occasionally gormless creative, I was reminded of some of the funniest moments between Jennifer Saunders and Jane Horrocks in Absolutely Fabulous – except better balanced and more credible (within the comic world they’ve created).

It is so refreshing to behold an all-female comedy act that is NOT described as ‘Fleabag meets …..’! This show explores intimacy, fidelity, devotion and mortality and is entirely hilarious but not inappropriate along the way. In many respects, You Only Live Forever has a certain ‘old-school’ quality to it, reminiscent of the writing of Ben Elton and Victoria Wood in that it is charming, whacky, coherent and not intended to provoke shock but works hard for every laugh and is confidently knowing and satirical. However, the show is not old-fashioned or corny. The fact that the two leads fall in love and happen to be two women is not skirted over but nor is it particularly central which feels modern without expecting a prize for it.

There are aspects of this show that give it more playfulness and fun that are borrowed partially from Brecht and others that nod to the great British fringe comedy revue tradition. As I don’t want to give away punchlines or spoilers, it’s best that you don’t know too much about this play before you go see it. Starting at 9pm and running exactly an hour, it’s just at the right time to have a few drinks before and expect some entertainment that won’t hurt your brain too much but won’t make you feel dirty like you’ve dumbed-down to a level of escapism that is degrading – perfect fare for these times. Catch it while you can because unlike Imi, this won’t be around forever!

4 stars

Review by Mary Beer

You Only Live Forever charts a love affair between two women, one of whom has unwittingly swallowed the elixir of life. Alongside the story of immortality, Dunn and Metcalf break out of the action to compete with their actor-writer egos, bringing a meta-comedy element to the show.

Written and performed by Roxy Dunn and Alys Metcalf
Wednesday 14th August 2019 to Saturday 17th August 2019 at 9pm.


  • Mary Beer

    Mary graduated with a cum laude degree in Theatre from Columbia University’s Barnard College in New York City. In addition to directing and stage managing several productions off-Broadway, Mary was awarded the Helen Prince Memorial Prize in Dramatic Composition for her play Subway Fare whilst in New York. Relocating to London, Mary has worked in the creative sector, mostly in television broadcast and production, since 1998. Her creative and strategic abilities in TV promotion, marketing and design have been recognised with over 20 industry awards including several Global Promax Golds. She is a founder member of multiple creative industry and arts organisations and has frequently served as an advisor to the Edinburgh International TV Festival.

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