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Second Summer of Love at The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Molly (Rosa Strudwick) has a homework assignment about the dangers of taking recreational drugs. She wants her mother to help her revise the specific dangers of taking ecstasy, focusing on the three different ways it can kill you. This makes her mum, Louise (Emmy Happisburgh) feel awkward, as she used to take the drug herself when she was in her teens.

Second Summer of Love

In Second Summer of Love, Louise was an original raver, hitting the scene when she was just 16 years old. She reminisces about the “good old days” and the friends she made through the rave scene. She remembers this time as the best days of her life. Recently she has been feeling that her present, middle-class life (married to a headmaster, teaching music at the same school, shopping at Waitrose, etc.), is rather claustrophobic: has she suppressed the wild “me” of the 90s a bit too much?

Emmy Happisburgh plays Louise with overwhelming energy, frequently managing to speak her lines while rave dancing. Happisburgh plays many parts herself including her best friend Julie, her first boyfriend, Eddie, and the friend who introduced her to ecstasy “Bucket Hat” Brian (Happisburgh plays the young Brian). When she compares her experiences to those of the present day, she feels she is missing out on something. The nearest she gets to those feelings now is going to a “ravercise” class in the Village Hall: the instructor can’t be more than 22 and she has clearly never been to an authentic rave. At the end of the class, the participants scuffle off in embarrassment. This is not what rave culture was about! Louise takes us back through her experiences of raving as a teenager, she remembers nothing but the excitement and overwhelming feeling of love for everyone. Later, when Brian (Christopher Freestone) turns up to deliver her pizza, she asks him if he misses the old days. He doesn’t, his health, both physical and mental, have suffered. He has actually lost the ability to remember most things. This man used to be the life and soul of the party.

Meeting up with Julie, Eddie, and Brian again makes Louise re-evaluate her experiences, maybe her drug-taking did have an impact on her fledging music career and lead her to being a support act to her husband. She realises that she has been looking back at the past through rose-tinted glasses, and her husband and daughter are the most important things in her life. However, she resolves to add some acid jazz to the school choir’s repertoire this year and take up singing and songwriting again.

I absolutely loved this play! Emmy Happisburgh really gives life to the feeling of overwhelming excitement of having fun when you are young and how hard it is to settle for a more mundane life. The rest of the cast give excellent support. The play is definitely worthy of being developed into a fully cast production and I am hoping my own gym starts up a ravercise class soon.

5 Star Rating

Review by Sally Knipe

SECOND SUMMER OF LOVE is an uplifting, high-energy, physical-theatre comedy.

Original raver, Louise, is wondering how she went from ecstasy-taking idealist to respectable, disillusioned, home counties mum?

Written and performed by Emmy Happisburgh, with direction by Peter Bramley, the play premiered as a one-woman performance at Edinburgh Fringe 2022. Now, with additional direction by Scott Le Crass, this refreshed version is a three hander. On the present evening we meet MOLLY (played by Rosa Strudwick; Emmy’s real-life daughter) and BRIAN (Christopher Freestone) as, triggered by her daughter’s anti-drugs homework and at peak mid-life crisis, LOUISE flashes back to the emotional happenings of the week and then further to the early 90’s rave scene.

This play addresses the universal themes of coming of age and fulfilling potential whilst offering a new perspective for conversations about recreational drug use, recovery from addiction and embracing mid-life.

Second Summer of Love
20 APR 2023 – 21 APR 2023
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
Millbrook, Guildford GU1 3UX

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