It is a question that has divided opinion since the age of Ancient Greece: do you believe in love at first sight? Those amorous civilians fell head over heels with the notion that one glance is enough to be beguiled by one another. It is a well-known phenomenon that has been explored throughout popular culture, from Shakespeare’s plays to reality television shows.
As told in Tim Fraser’s short play CANDY, Will (Michael Waller) has never believed in love at first sight. Reading Romeo and Juliet required him to significantly suspended his disbelief. After all, how can you love someone you barely know?
As Will sneaks into an empty theatre dressing room, he caresses a microphone and flowing blonde wig. He tells how his opinion on the way love goes changed when he set eyes on Candy. Sweet by name, sweet by nature, Candy is a blonde buxom bombshell who just so happens to be his best friend Billy in drag.
After attempting to speak into the microphone, Will decides that his story was better started from the safety of a lone table in the audience. Immediately it is clear—this monologue was not set up to be a glitzy West End play, where seemingly ordinary people start dancing down streets and belting out perfectly-rehearsed ballads. This is one man telling his story of love, confusion and identity. He’s in love with Candy—but does she really exist? She is a caricature; an exaggeration of the best friend he thinks of as a brother.
Throughout this personal monologue, we never set eyes on the elusive Candy. You might assume this makes Will’s story less believable. It does the complete opposite as it invites us to imagine Candy exactly how she is: an extension of best friend Billy. We are forced to watch the powerful emotions on Will’s face as he recalls the image of a woman he can’t have.
Although the play is about Candy, we get a sense of Billy and how much he means to Will. Their names are almost the same—a nod to their closeness. Their friendship was intimate, but platonic. Despite their bond, Will’s attraction to Candy was still a bolt from the blue.
Waller plays the uncertain Will perfectly. His casual dress and regional accent reminds you that he is just an ordinary guy pouring his heart out, not a born performer like the object of his affections.
This short play, brimming with raw emotion, will resonate with anyone who has battled with unexpected, impossible, unrequited love. A gem of a short play nestled in the vast expanse of the Edinburgh Fringe, Reboot Theatre‘s CANDY is a captivating sweet treat that demands to be seen.
Words by Tayler Finnegan
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