Another of the HighTide Disruption season, with fond memories of friends gone by in Teddy Lamb's Since U Been Gone. They dance to noughties pop and sadly remenisce. Daniel Perks reviews:

In a digital world, if you make a mistake you can erase it, rewriting your story time and time again to make it perfect. But real life and love and friendship don’t work that way.

Teddy Lamb regrets pulling back from their best friend when she needed them. They regret losing touch with a third member of a seemingly very cool college clique. Neither are around anymore, and Since U Been Gone is a fitting homage to their memories.

You died thinking I was a boy

Since U Been Gone is a love letter and a eulogy, praise and sorrow, sadness and laughter. Lamb walks us through the tumultuous journey of the friendships, with pop songs and original music performed by the reassuring presence of Nicol Parkinson. The duo makes a strong stage presence that Lamb subtly plays on for comic effect.

Lamb also bravely makes themselves vulnerable and seen through the personal tales in Since U Been Gone. At times the narrative is overthought and overworked, but it equally often has moments of noughties nostalgia and brave accounts of gender and sexual discovery.

I still don’t have the words

How would you react if you received the phonecall to inform you that your friend had passed away? What about if it happens twice? Lamb ruminates on the things they didn’t say, the ways they didn’t react. The first time they spoke to everyone possible. The second time they had no one to tell.

It’s a brutally honest part of the production where Lamb thinks about what could have been different rather than giving themselves a break. Their humble delivery naturally invites and receives empathy from the audience in spades – everyone is too hard on their actions in difficult situations; no one gives themselves the space to accept that no reaction is the right reaction.

A world where a pronoun is not target practice

There are points in Since U Been Gone where the narrative meanders too much, instances where the production concept needs stretching beyond a monologue or an anecdote. There are stories that will benefit from a more nuanced directorial hand by Billy Barrett – memories of gay chicken and skipping class in college have immense significance in Lamb’s journey but lack the impact they deserve.

But for all its intensity, serious material and sad recollections of loves and friendships lost, Since U Been Gone ends with uplifting positivity. We dance the show away as Lamb continues their journey with an ellipsis, rather than a full stop. Life is too short for full stops.

★★★☆☆

Since U Been Gone is now playing at Assembly Roxy until 25 August 2019, before transferring to the HighTide Festival in Aldeburgh on 10-15 September 2019. For more information or to buy tickets, please visit the festival website.