‘Laura’ by Elina Alminas begins as it means to go on by throwing every audience member right into the heart of the action. You enter the space to find a broken woman hurrying you into your seat because from now on you are no longer a ticket holder but a member of the wedding party, and you’re about to go on one hell of a journey.
You discover that this broken woman in front of you has been left at the altar but that doesn’t mean that the party has to stop. You might find yourself sitting next to a bridesmaid who is cornered into telling Laura where her fiancé might be, or perhaps you’re behind a cousin who Laura deems is the perfect companion to take to the Maldives with her on the honeymoon intended for the newlyweds. If you’re very lucky you might even be the one chosen to perform the first dance Laura had prepared in such detail. But no matter where you sit, you feel very lucky you got a ticket.
Alminas as a writer has created one of those rare pieces that find its humour from a deep truth, so that every time you laugh you simultaneously feel this guilt that increases your empathy for Laura. Alminas as a performer has an extraordinary intensity that allows a connection between Laura and the audience to grow in meaning throughout the piece. You are here. Listen to her. You are a tool on the emotional rollercoaster that is Laura’s rejection and revenge. Be present for it.
Watching Laura down valium with champagne and then attempt guided meditation with the audience is the best moment of fringe theatre I’ve ever seen. This is performance art and comedy paired perfectly because you get the involvement and commitment of a performance artist with the accessibility of a comedy; you are included in the joke not simply a witness.
To go into more detail would be spoiling the fun but trust that this is a show written with confidence. Lines like ‘I’d give all of myself to Elvis. Or maybe not. I’m not sure there’s anything left’ make you laugh in the theatre and then haunt you once you get home. The momentum of a one woman show is hard to keep up but Alminas uses the audience participation to break up the structure of the show and keep you on your toes. This is a consummate performer working from a comically brilliant text. Writers are told to write extraordinary characters, ‘Laura’ proves why this is such brilliant advice.