Lovecraft (Not The Sex Shop in Cardiff) is an award-winning, one-woman science comedy-musical about the neuroscience of love and loneliness. Combining heartfelt tales of relationship highs, lows and the downright confusing, Carys Eleri’s marvellously personal show, which is part of the This Is Wales Showcase is told with plenty of sass, chocolate, hugs and bangin’ tunes too. Carys spoke with The Fountain about Lovecraft as well as her plans for August.
TF: Are you excited to be performing at the Fringe this year?
Absobloodylutely. I’m so settled into my show now, it’s so much fun for me every time. I’ve taken it far and wide (Adelaide Fringe included, where we won Best Cabaret Award…. Had to drop that in. Whoop) since my last dalliance with the Fringe which was cut very short. Last year, on August 8th, around five shows in – the light of my life – my dad passed away very suddenly. It was so awful. I was so happy that he had got to see it in Cardiff and saw me for all that I am before he passed. He loved the show – it’s all about the science of love – and that’s all that man ever gave me. So, two days after his funeral, mam and I flew back up to the Fringe so I could complete my last three dates, where I wrote my dad into the show to share what had just happened, and it was utterly glorious. Each time I do it now, it’s all for him. My poor mum though, still cringes every time I sing Tit Montage. Soz mam. The last year has been so difficult emotionally, and this show gives me so much joy to share and has kept me going. So, come on Edinburgh Fringe – let’s go!
TF: What’s the premise of your show?
It’s a one woman-comedy-science-music-show about the neuroscience of love and loneliness.
It’s like a ted talk on acid with some grime, garage, heavy metal and an 80s power ballad to a Tinder profile.
Be prepared to laugh, love and learn about thyself in a very cosmic way,,,,
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
I came across the topic of the neuroscience of love in my favourite publication – New Scientist magazine – around five years ago following a very painful break-up. It was a valentine edition and the cover title was ‘Cure for love; Should we take anti love drugs?’ Boom. Bought. IN. In there was a Q&A with a neuroethicist about anti-love biotechnology – basically pills were being developed to help people get over relationships, specifically those in seriously abusive relationships. This pill would shut off the neuroreceptor for oxytocin, the bonding/love hormone allowing those in toxic cycles to finally break free from their abuser. So, in theory it would stop love. I was really struggling to recover from this break up and wanted to know more as I had NEVER considered love as a scientific endeavour. So, I tweeted the neuroethicist in question Dr Brian Earp, and two days later he gave me an hour’s lecture via skype on how it all works. IT BLEW MY MIND. His concern for this pill is that it would be instantly abused e.g used as anti-gay therapy. Then I was asked to write a five-minute play for Dirty Protest Theatre Company on a theme for ‘Space and Time’ for a festival. At the time – I had neither to accomplish that. Then they advised me to write a song if that would be simpler for me. So, I wrote what one professor of neuroscience I have met since, described as a ‘Neuro-rap’. New genre alert! To the tune of Eminem’s Hi My Name Is, I rapped about a scenario where I was phoning my mother to ask advice on my heart ache – tell her I’ve just read about some pills I could drop to recover quicker from my pain, and how cool a concept that was and who knew love was scientific? And after listening intently to my cries, she then stops me in my tracks then tells me that she does have an answer for my woes, and that’s not dropping a pill… what I actually need is ‘space and time’!
Then I go on to slag off big pharma companies. It went down very well with an audience covered in glitter and snogging.
Years later, I was commissioned by Wales Millennium Centre to do a show for The Festival of Voice, where I pitched an idea about a show all about the science of love as myself and through my eyes… the more I researched love the more I came to loneliness and the loneliness epidemic the world is facing with the rise of technology. I really do think I have done a PhD in love. The reading list I have accumulated is bonkers. It made me realise how much I fucking love people. I care for humans, and we need to learn how we are by design to grow. No matter who you are in the world – EVERYONE functions the same in terms of love and loneliness. Brains react well to kindness, and they become physically damaged when experiencing the opposite. Peace and love is scientifically important for the entire human race.
TF: What are your plans for the Fringe, having been before are there any tips or musts you would offer to first-time performers?
My plan for the Fringe is to enjoy each and every show I do and be there as support for other friends who are up there doing shows and always go see things which are recommended. There’s a sea of stuff, so I like recommendations from those I trust. I try not to burn the candle at both ends too much (as EXCELLENT as I am at doing that) – rapping pissed or hungover is absolutely terrifyingly s**t… for everyone.
Tips for 1st timers….
If you’re tired, chuck a posh frock on and blag your way into a posh hotel spa for some time-out of the chaos. Give it all you got. Silk. Jewellery….A Welsh Accent if you can…. Channel your inner extreme millennial, alongside your classy ancestors from the ’40s, emote your gratitude to those who let you in and throw yourself into that pool with utter grace and aplomb.
Alternatively, humbly ask how much it would be for a temporary membership for a month.
It’s worth it. You’re worth it. Go get it.
Go grab some shows but, darlings, get some rest.
TF: And what are your future plans?
I’ll be touring Lovecraft in the Autumn and offering it in English and in Welsh – my first language. In the meantime, I’m also a singer in Charlotte Church’s Late-Night Pop Dungeon. There’s nine of us altogether – we’re all very close and it’s such a scream – as well as doing backing vocals, I take the lead in Killing In The Name while the rest are singing the chorus of Destiny’s Child Independent Women underneath me. I mean…! Last time I did that one I was dressed as a cosmic Welsh lady. I have also recently written a series of comedy pop songs which will be online soon. I can’t believe how much joy my work life is. There’s a lot of fun and fabulousness in the pipeline….. so watch this sparkly-love-space.
You can see Lovecraft (Not the Sex Shop in Cardiff) at Underbelly, Cowgate from 13th – 25th August (Not 19th) at 22:40. For tickets, please visit www.edfringe.com