Festival review: Molly Naylor and The Middle Ones; Pleasance Courtyard (venue 33)

Molly Naylor & The Middle Ones : My Robot Heart'Theatre Production at the Pleasance'Edinburgh Festival 2012'Fringe
Molly Naylor & The Middle Ones : My Robot Heart'Theatre Production at the Pleasance'Edinburgh Festival 2012'Fringe
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A JAPANESE robot programmed to fall in love, which almost crushed a scientist to death, is one of the inspirations behind irrepressible storyteller Molly Naylor’s new, one-woman show.

The other is her decision to split up with her perfectly nice partner and inability to explain why to friends and family. Through the story of three characters on their way to a wedding, she sets out to explore her actions, creating an inverse rom-com that turns the mysteries of the human heart into a funny, touching, sad and life affirming piece of theatre.

Helping out are the Middle Ones, an understated musical duo who have the retro chic of 1970s children and create laid back harmonies that complement Molly’s easygoing style of storytelling. They are also the band she listened to when going through her break-up. Behind an appealing surge of casual mateyness, Molly weaves a tightly structured script ensuring that while this is the kind of show that might, at times, appear like it’s been made up on the spot, it’s actually a something much sharper.

Eliza is 29 and about to get married, her stepbrother Harry is 11 and dreading having to go to the wedding, and her father Jack is 60 and struggling to write a speech for a daughter he doesn’t really know. Their three journeys take them in different directions – from learning to stand up for a bullied friend, to inadvertently running over someone’s dog, to coming to terms with terminal illness – and, ironically, further and further away from the altar.

Molly has an ability to pick out everyday details in even the most bizarre experiences and bring them to life with warmth and humour – Take That on the car stereo, Viennetta for pudding. Pertinent character observations are conveyed with poetic verve, as different generations try to find their place in modern life. A refreshing conclusion rejects a jazzy wedding finale – no-one has to get married any more – and instead celebrates how we are all programmed to fall in love but, unlike robots, can’t control when, why and how.

Rating: * * * *

Until 27 August. Today 3:25pm.