Love. Guts. High School.

We can all remember the name of our first crush, can’t we? That’s the question Love. Guts. High School opens with, sending the audience into a moment of awkward mental scramble (in my case) or immediate eye-rolling and sighs (the lady next to me).

Bonner is an exuberant performer and very easy to watch, although she sometimes veers into parody in her portrayal of a teenage girl.

A solo show written and performed by New York-based actor Jeanette Bonner, Love. Guts. High School is relatable territory on teenage crushes and the effect an unhealthy relationship can have on future romantic prospects. In an intimate space, with a limited but functional set, and with a 90s soundtrack creating a good atmosphere, Bonner consults her magic 8-ball to see if she has any hope in getting her crush, Gabe, to “like-like” her.

From her sophomore year right through until college, Gabe is never far from her mind, as Jeanette relates the narrative in a series of monologues to friends, a teacher, and new love interests. It’s often very funny, and often very awkward as Jeanette at first tries to convince friends that she doesn’t like Gabe “like that” and later tries to convince herself that she and Gabe are just friends (with benefits).

Bonner is an exuberant performer and very easy to watch, although she sometimes veers into parody in her portrayal of a teenage girl. While funny, the teenage character is not particularly likeable and I struggled to be sympathetic to her plights. The petty teen dramas that grated on me in the early parts of the show give way as the narrative progresses, but while we see the character mature into adulthood, the script doesn’t quite deliver the character growth and change I wanted to see take place.

The situation is a familiar one – likely one we’ve all experienced and can understand – and despite Bonner’s strong performance, the show doesn’t succeed in offering depth or a new perspective on how we are shaped by our first love.

Reviews by Emma Gibson

theSpace @ Venue45

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Performances

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The Blurb

Super-highschooler Jeanette achieves everything she sets her mind to... except for love. Travelling from grade-school awkwardness to 90210-style sexuality, her biggest crush quickly goes from like-like to obsession. See what happens when Jeanette stops listening to her Magic Eight Ball, and starts listening to her heart.

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