Taking inspiration from the conversations baristas overhear in coffee shops, Isobel Rogers’ Elsa is a novel take on female millennials. Directed by Sara Joyce, Elsa is entirely made up of Rogers’ songs which dovetail into each other, telling a larger narrative.
While most of the show’s songs are of the acoustic variety, Rogers occasionally mixes things up, such as with a Gwen Stefani/Hollaback Girl pastiche that’s very funny.
The primary thread of the show concerns Elsa’s own thoughts about her life direction and fulfilment. Spending most of her life on scratch nights and other creative projects is one thing, but Elsa feels the need to have recognition for her efforts all over social media. Having a boyfriend would ‘kill two birds with one stone’ – not only to have someone to share living costs, he could take daily photos which would elimnate the ‘need’ for taking selfies. Who said romance is dead?!
The lives of the other women also offer food for thought on what constitutes criteria for ending a relationship. For some it’s the buying of bread (boyfriend showing no consideration for gluten intolerance) or cooking non-vegan friendly food with their cooking utensils (#firstworldproblems).
There are plenty of women that Elsa meets who are ‘beset with problems’, but there are others like Lillian, the ‘female Aslan’, who are ‘so together’ and everything she wants to be. Of course Lillian is in media, so being at the top of her profession at the age of 42 she’s living the dream.
Much of what’s sung about in Elsa is tongue-in-cheek , but the ‘observations’ all have a kernel of truth – at least in terms of stereotypes perpetuated and the unhappiness these women face when their lives aren’t as perfect as their lattes. With laughs, wit and social commentary in abundance, Elsa will surely put Rogers on the map.
© Michael Davis 2018
Elsa runs at the Vault Festival until the 18th February.