Break Up With Your Boyfriend

Aug 8 2023 | By More

★★★☆☆    Enjoyable and informative

Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33): Fri 4 – Mon 28 Aug 2023
Review by Allan Wilson

There’s a lot to enjoy in Break Up With Your Boyfriend by Edinburgh company, Scylla’s Bite, a tale of two young women with boyfriend trouble and therapy overload at the Pleasance Courtyard for the whole Fringe.

Break Up With Your Boyfriend has moments of genuine comedy between the women, hints of real darkness lurking in the background and the use of some interesting techniques to engage the audience’s attention.

Abbie Lowe and Rebekah Smith in Breakup with your Boyfriend. Pic Scylla’s Bite.

Cassie and Jo are flatmates, who have difficult relationships with their boyfriends. Cassie, played with energy and enthusiasm by Abbie Lowe, has just been dumped by her boyfriend in a late night phone conversation.

He is breaking up with Cassie, but clearly placing the blame on her: “This just isn’t working out for me.” “I can’t deal with your emotions.” “I don’t love you anymore.” Jo brings a box of pizza a bottle of wine and sympathy. Rebekah Smith initially portrays Jo as calm and analytical. She doesn’t do sensitivity and anger, but it soon becomes clear that she has also been having difficulties with her boyfriend.

Cassie suggests that she’ll soon be back with her boyfriend, while Jo notes that Cassie is displaying the Seven Stages of Grief: Shock and Disbelief, Denial, Guilt, Anger and Bargaining, Depression, Reconstruction and Acceptance.

Grief Signs

To emphasise this point, we can see that the wine bottle has DENIAL written in bold, white letters down the side. This is the first of a series of text signs, highlighting the various stages. SHOCK is written on the back of the pizza box, while DEPRESSION later appears, written on the door of a microwave, while the audience tries to spot other signs as they are revealed. It is a clever technique as many people will now remember the play as ‘the one with the Grief Signs’.

Over time, Cassie, with Jo’s support, tries different self-help therapy approaches: baking, surrounding herself with joy, treadmill exercise and yoga, all demonstrated with a few laughs. She dips into online dating, but isn’t impressed by her potential matches, and is also worried about ending up as the ‘missing girl of the month’.

Abbie Lowe and Rebekah Smith in Breakup with your Boyfriend. Pic Scylla’s Bite.

Jo reveals that her boyfriend of five years once forced himself upon her when she was drunk at a party. He apologised the following day, but Jo is unsure exactly what happened and admits that she never initiates sex with him.

There are occasional hints throughout the play – lingering glances and throw away comments – to suggest that the young women have been looking for love in the wrong place, so the ending, with one last word visible on Jo’s bare back comes as no surprise.

The play makes a lot of use of music and movement, with a carefully chosen selection of songs from the 1990s and 2000s. Madonna’s Hung Up, with its hook, “Time goes by so slowly…” indicates the length of Jo’s relationship with her boyfriend. Smith’s slow dance to accompany this is particularly effective.

labour of love

This has clearly been a labour of love for Lowe and Smith, who share credit for some excellent writing and direction, as well as performing. Ash Strain was brought in to act as Technical Manager, and to share Technical Design with Lowe.

Break Up With Your Boyfriend is enjoyable and informative throughout, but, occasionally, the balance between the comedy of therapy and the darkness of an abusive relationship doesn’t feel quite right. Nevertheless, Lowe and Smith should be proud of their work, which is certainly worth seeing and hints at a lot more to come.

Running time: One hour (no interval)
Pleasance Courtyard (Beside). 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ (Venue 33)
Wednesday 2 – Monday 28 August 2023
Daily (not Wed 16): 12.55pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Scilla’s Byte links:

Twitter: @ScyllasBite
Facebook: @scyllasbite
Instagram: @scyllasbite




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