Review: My Pet, My Love (C Royal)
Updated: Jun 3, 2022
With the number of people with dementia growing year on year, estimated at around 50 million this year, a one-man show that is not only on dementia but the fear of forgetting, comes at a very pertinent time. Rob Gaetano performs in his semi-autobiographical “My Pet, My Love”, borne out of his fear of forgetting in the wake of his grandmother’s death, exploring this fear by jumping between periods of his life, considering love, loss, and memory.
The stage is rather beautifully set with a chair, a stool, and innumerable small silver keys scattered on the floor. It perfectly illustrated the fear of emptiness and lack of identity that we can all empathise with. Throughout the performance there are nicely dressed metaphors, and as the piece is not exactly linear it was enjoyable to decode them and relate to them, as well as laughing at the charming humour. Director Lily Fish always ensures there is a flow and decent pace to the piece, though it does seem at times as though she is being restrained or restraining herself here.
It was clear within the first few moments that the focus would be more on the protagonist and the performer’s life than on the themes that were being explored. Referring to himself as a “gay, unemployed actor”, one cannot help but warm to the Gaetano as both an actor and a character. He’s funny, skilled, and versatile, and to watch him perform was a delight. As a portfolio for his ability, the piece works beautifully.
However, I did find the writing and the variety of settings and scenes a little disjointed and empty. Scenes in which Gaetano’s childhood self told a story of a little fish called Bluey was endearing, but the simple meaning behind it meant it couldn’t sustain and remain entertaining or insightful. The closest we get to properly exploring the fear of dying alone without comfort or memory is an elongated scene of Gaetano walking to a blanket on a chair to an array of lighting and sound design effects. Similarly, the metaphor of the scene wasn’t quite insightful enough to save it from drifting into the territory of boredom.
Despite the humorous moments and the likability of the actor and character, the show itself felt like it didn’t have an awful lot to say. Maybe it will speak to people who are more affected by the issue than myself, but as it is I think there is a more in-depth, and perhaps a more focused, solo show waiting to happen on this topic. The best outcome, of course, is that out of this show Gaetano and Fish will be given opportunities to be part of bigger and better things than this rather forgettable excursion. Three stars.