I felt a little bad walking into I’ll Have What She’s Having— I got there early and was thus let into the house at the front of the line. This left me sitting in the front row with an open notebook, which I have experienced myself at the Fringe, and find to be one of the most daunting things in the world. But the ladies of I’ll Have What She’s Having are unphased, launching into an autobiographical adaptation that is both endearing and close to the bone. Jess’ line “I have an English degree, which is basically a degree in SparkNotes” hits home for me. I’m pretty sure I winced a little. But there’s more to this show than millennial flippancy; we are also offered an insight into the world of Victoria, a mother in her mid-twenties who is also married and a PHD student. Her reserved energy provides a nice foil for Jess’ care-free vibe, creating a dual perspective and a sense that we are universally facing the issues the play discusses. Though there are uniquely feminine topics raised, concerning enforced beauty norms and “the right time” to become a mother, the universality of concerns such as how we appear to other people and the stability of our romantic lives are also brought to the fore, to the palpable unease of the audience.
Adding to this nervousness are Jess and Victoria’s open flirtations with an audience member named Phillip, a sombre moment wherein Victoria hangs her silent doubts on a washing line at the back of the stage, and some creative use of bananas that left me amused, nauseated and blushing. It’s a lot. Most people’s life stories are though, and that’s what I’ll Have What She’s Having feels like. Jess reads from a childhood diary at certain points in the play, and it feels like more than just a gimmick—seeing Jess and Victoria perform feels a lot like reading the diary of someone young, unsure and inexperienced. The sensitivity of the piece is no fault of incompetence, however. I’ll Have What She’s Having is clearly the work of dynamic young writer-performers who effectively generate an energy that is both humorous and uplifting, while maintaining the poignancy inherent in the show’s autobiographical source material.
I’d recommend I’ll Have What She’s Having to anyone really, but it’s my compulsion to encourage people like me, who are in their twenties and haven’t a bloody clue where their life is going yet to see I’ll Have What She’s Having—it turns what is usually the subject of crippling anxiety and confusion into something fun, hopeful and warm. It felt like a catch up with an old friend, which is aptly how the piece is framed. I’ll Have What She’s Having is on at Studio 4 in Assembly George Square, every day from the 3rd to the 26th of August at 12:15pm. Jess would be happy, Victoria would be happy, it’s just such a happy time to go see it.