Review: Vegan romcom play in Clapham made me laugh and think

There’s an old joke that says you can always tell if someone is a vegan, because they’ll tell you.

This is certainly true in the one woman show Meat Cute, where Bibi Lucille acts as a powerhouse; entertaining, but educating at the same time.

Among other roles, she plays Lena – a 23-year-old on a mission to turn her tinder dates on to plant based food.

It’s a highly energised, farcical show with costume and character changes galore, but at its heart is a compelling message about the consequences of buying animal products.

Lucille said: “The way we treat animals is really poor and slightly insane.

“If I go to the theatre and see something about someone who is maybe religious or has a completely different culture to me, I’m able to empathise.”

She hopes that Meat Cute will engender the same response.

The fast-paced comedy is punctuated with stirring speeches on veganism that could stand alone outside of the stage’s context.

The audience is undoubtedly led to question their own ethics and lifestyle.

Lucille struggled herself with willpower and discipline before turning completely vegan, but said: “Its becoming more accessible and its not something only middle class and upper class people can do.

“We can find stuff in McDonalds or find vegan food in Tesco that’s affordable.

“I think a lot of people do agree with it, its just hard sometimes and difficult to always maintain that discipline.”

The UN are now pushing the alternative diet, but Lucille doesn’t believe meat-eating will disappear altogether.

She jokingly said: “I have a feeling there are going to be meat speakeasies – if it was illegal people would try and sell it on the black market.”

She explained there is also a human rights argument to change your diet. “People that work in slaughter houses are treated so terribly and get less than minimum wage, and then they’re traumatised from it.”

Bibi Lucille from the Meat Cute play
FAUX LEATHER JACKET: Bibi Lucille stars in Meat Cute. Credit: Robin Gauthier

Lucille expertly embodies a parade of eccentric characters in the form of Lena’s dates, colleagues and family.

There’s the wannabe gangster brother, still living at home with his hysterical mother and emotionally repressed dad, and then there’s the men she meets.

Some are chauvinistic, others painfully awkward, but each as insufferable as the last.

She captures their stereotypical essence, reflecting behaviour we know all too well from people in our own lives.

In a particularly surreal scene, a group of men she met through Tinder stage an intervention to try and stop her from using the app to convert people.

In another she gets into trouble at her call centre workplace for deviating from the script to deliver a spiel on animal rights.

Much like a misfit character in a romcom, the audience are rooting for her to find her place in the world, and a genuine love interest she doesn’t have to transform.

Indeed the play takes its name from a romantic comedy film trope known as the ‘meet cute’, where the central characters meet each other for the first time in a funny or quirky scenario.

Lucille finds being in a one person show more challenging than performing with a cast.

She said: “Its harder to get into the scene. When you’re with other actors you can get involved with it, you create the world together.

“When you look into the other actors’ eyes you can get so immersed in it, whereas when its just you there’s nobody to create the world with you.”

Anastasia Bunce, the play’s director, draws on techniques used by historical theatre practitioners and playwrights like Bertolt Brecht and Anton Chekhov.

Lucille described one of these techniques, where the actor imagines their heart dropping to their stomach to induce a feeling of heartbreak.

Patch Plays, the company behind the show, creates theatre addressing animal ethics and environmental sustainability.

Through its work, it aims to provoke conversation and reflection on the state of the world.

I laughed out loud and nodded in recognition, but what will stay with me the longest is the compelling argument to change my way of life.

Meat Cute played at the Bread and Roses Theatre in Clapham.

Featured image credit: Stuart Bunce

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