REVIEW: Cherry, theSpace @ Venue 45, Edinburgh Fringe

Cherry is a verbatim piece revolving around the concept of Virginity and the cultural and social issues surrounding its value. Exploring the concept through verbatim monologues, Loose Cannon Theatre compiles the real stories of over 100 anonymous sources in order to question what ‘virginity’ means to us.

A monologic format can often lead to a repetitive purgatory of meaningless words, but for Cherry, the inventive, varied and well-executed theatricalisation of these stories managed to hold our attention for the entirety of the one-hour run time. This variety is key to the success of the piece, providing a huge frame of reference for a cultural survey of virginity; stories of good and bad first-times, virginity trading online, those that remain virgins and the stigma and gossip surrounding those that ‘lost it’ too young. However, because of this inundation of material, the piece lacks the veneer of memorability, providing such a huge quantity of stories and voices that the audience are left a little flooded. The acting is subtle, sometimes getting lost in the more exciting stylised physical performances, and with the huge variety of characters represented, the piece lacks a prominent through-line or character to invest in. Despite this, real moments of beauty manage to push through the ensemble work.

The set is minimal, with a bed in the middle of the stage and a shadow screen lining the back wall, but the business of the ensemble work enacting the stories fills the stage with constant stimulation and allows the quieter, more subtle moments, the time and authenticity they deserve.

For a devised verbatim piece, the script is largely well-structured, grouping together comparative experiences and providing a general structure, though this could be better developed to provide a well-developed and streamlined narrative to guide us through the complex range of language and action portrayed in the stories.

This piece is not only fascinating and entertaining, but of social import, and the cost of it’s varied representations is it’s somewhat inundate use of material. Cherry delves into the world of sexual experience and inexperience with sensibility and comedy, both educating and challenging it’s audience on their own preconceptions, as well as tackling larger political issues of sexual education and consent.