Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Review: Love is a Work in Progress

30 April 2019

With the ready aid of massive inflatables, red satin sheets and fairy wings, Tara Rankine shares her stories of love. Inside the cosy venue of Tasma Terrace, this show from the 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival invites you straight “into her heart”. Raunchy and raw, Love is a Work in Progress closely examines the types of love she has experienced in sex, romance and friendship. Featuring music by Maddie Thiele, this winner of the Best Cabaret Adelaide Fringe Weekly Award treats us to reenactments that range from hilarious to heartbreaking.

At the risk of revealing too much, I’ll ask you this: have you ever wanted to throw on a pair of goggles and dive into an exciting little box (sexual innuendo fully intended) in search of a lost condom? Here’s your chance.  

Rankine sparks our attention with her first tale of love, starring the man she calls “Rockstar”. Rockstar offers rockstar looks, rockstar body, and rockstar sex. Their sexual energy reverberates like music from concert speakers. What sustains our attention, however, is the empowering ownership she takes over her desires and fantasies. There is no room for embarrassment as Rankine embraces her enjoyment of wild, casual sex. Following this thrill ride, the performer and comedian delves into a story from the other end of the spectrum: awkward, giggly, lights-off first date sex. Amidst the hilarity, Rankine challenges the idea of romantic love as integral to sexual intimacy. In fact, she explains that the lack of seriousness is what freed her from perfectionistic pressures and allowed her to laugh away the cringe-worthy moments.

The chronicle continues. There is obsessive, addictive love. There is also kind love, one that cooks for you and climbs into bed for late conversations. Lastly, there is self-love. The relationship you have with yourself is the foundation on which all other interactions are built. Although this is not new knowledge, the messages of this show serve as a reminder of the immense importance self-love holds. Rankine is firm in this conviction. Nearing the end of the show, the audience members join her in song and celebrate the love they have for themselves.

Love is a Work in Progress is an invitation for connection. As Rankine puts forth her humanity in all its honesty, I was moved by the audience’s immediate response to rise up against the challenge. Overwhelmingly, this performance imprinted on me a fresh perspective on appreciating our relationships with each other. We should savour the temptations and gratifications of love. In parallel, we should also accept and prepare ourselves for the hurt and pain in love.

Love is a Work in Progress played from 8 April to 20 April 2019 as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

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