Paul T Davies reviews Love Song To Lavender Menace at Summerhall as part of the Edinburgh Fringe.
Lavender Menace was the legendary LGBTQ book shop in Edinburgh, and this hugely enjoyable production pays loving tribute to the shop and it’s co-founders. It’s wildly nostalgic for those of us who lived through the 1980s, and hugely informative for those of us from outside the city.
James Ley’s play uses two actors who play Glen and Lewis, co-workers leaving the shop when it closes down, and through their memories we get the history. Matthew McVarish is adorable as Glen, happy to play the fool and camp it up, a perfect foil for Pierce Reid’s Lewis, a drama queen and intellectual who wants them to stick to the facts. Together they create not a dull moment, they are hugely entertaining and dance to a terrific beat. The play is also a love song to literature and to gay spaces where we could feel safe and less alone
Before we become too nostalgic, the 80s were also a time of AIDS, Thatcher and Section 28, all referenced in the play. The sub plot of a closeted married man felt a little overwhelming of the rest of the story, but that may be because the play has been edited for the Fringe schedule. However, it makes the point about the importance of a safe place very well. This is a wonderful, celebratory LGBTQ play , which expained why I’m drawn to Waterstones on Princess Street!