Bombastic Declaration of Love

British Theatre Guide / Mark Ludmon

The venue for Bombastic Declaration of Love is Summerhall’s striking old anatomy lecture theatre with raised wooden horseshoe seating where students looked down on dissections for nearly 100 years when the building was a college for vets. It is a fitting space for a show that picks apart the painful emotions of love and desire, cutting down to the heart and soul.

Part of the Fringe’s Big in Belgium programme of Flemish theatre, the show is a simple concept that belies the cleverness of what it achieves. Its creator Julie Cafmeyer, a Belgian theatre maker, sits at the front with just a laptop and a projection screen, telling us (in English) about her passionate and stormy relationships with three different men. It is intensely autobiographical as she tells us about falling for a heartbroken thrillist who lives in a van, text-stalking a Croatian lover, the impact of her parents splitting up and other aspects of her life. Showing us photographs, extracts from her diary, text exchanges and smartphone video footage, she chats to us like a friend down the pub, telling us about intimate private moments that would normally be more suited to a whispered one-to-one conversation.

The beauty of the show is the effect it has on the audience and what Julie manages to elicit from them. Although she starts out as a stranger to us, we quickly feel we know her deepest, darkest emotions so, when she asks individual members of the audience about their responses to her story, it is startling what confessions they make about their own experiences and love lives. She doesn’t force anyone to share but few resist, confirming that many of us have felt the same intensities of emotion as Julie, although with perhaps more reserve than her. Despite the agony she is dissecting, it adds up to a show that suggests that, despite the risks of heartache, there is nothing more life-affirming and positive than freely expressing your feelings and making bombastic declarations of love.