Interview with Clementine Bogg-Hargroves and Zoey Barnes, Please Love Me

"Our show is a fairground ride in the rain that’s going a little too fast before a handbrake turn takes you to Banksy’s Dismaland. But you’re finding it funny and you’re wanting to dance."

Interview with Clementine Bogg-Hargroves and Zoey Barnes, Please Love Me

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

Hi! We’re Clem and Zoey from Please Love Me! Clem is the creator, writer and performer in the show and Zo is the co-creator and lyricist. That’s not entirely accurate as we’ve done a bit of everything to get this show on! How would that go? Hi we’re Clem and Zoey, we do basically everything and we’re still really poor, go into banking, nice to meet you!

How would you describe your show?

Our show is a fairground ride in the rain that’s going a little too fast before a handbrake turn takes you to Banksy’s Dismaland. But you’re finding it funny and you’re wanting to dance.

What is your favourite part of your show?

You know the ‘ting!’ sound effect that happens when people’s teeth gleam in cheesy cartoons? Yeah we have some fun with that, letting various body parts other than teeth have their time in the gleam. 

If your show had a theme song, what would it be and why?

We kind of do have a theme song! The Please Love Me Song in the show is a self-composed 2000’s clubland hit, with lyrics such as: “I’m bonking him so desperately”, and “Forgive me for getting fingered behind Kebab Wars”. It’s a classy show.

What is one thing you hope audiences will take away from your show?

If glow sticks weren’t so horrendous for the environment we’d love to hand out those, but alas, hopefully they’ll walk away with a sense of satisfaction from seeing so much go on in an hour long show, and maybe some of our catchy tunes in their heads.

If you could add a surprise celebrity cameo to your show, who would it be and why?

Jamie Demetriou would be a little too old to play the teenage love interest, but we absolutely adore him and he’s so hilarious. Imagining him pretending to do skiddy moves in a white Peugeot 206 to impress the girls in the Tesco car park would be a sight to behold. 

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

It will be our third time at the fringe, (fourth including our free fringe show Austen Power back in 2019), and we love it. 

Clem: As a performer, when you’re in Edinburgh during the festival and not performing, you can feel serious FOMO. (Well I definitely do.) I just wanted to be part of it, part of the creative community doing their thing. It was a bit of a shock when I finally did it to be honest, it’s so much harder than you imagine. So, I think over the years my reasons for being part of the festival have morphed and changed. For example, this year I’m premiering Please Love Me, which has so many things I’ve never done on stage before.  I want the experience of the festival to be a creative one. I want to grow alongside my show and be open to experimenting and trying things out with the audience in order to make the show better throughout the month. But above all, I want to enjoy it. I want to enjoy the process and try my hardest to focus on the work as opposed to the other stuff (reviews, awards, etc.) It helps that Zoey will be up for the full month this time as well! 

What differentiates it from other festivals?

Mainly the sheer scale of it. It allows for a real range of shows from an avant-garde dance piece in a tiny pub, to massive circus tents and famous people’s Work in Progress shows. That’s the beauty of it, there’s never any shortage of choice. 

What is one thing you would change about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

The cost of it. Without outside support, I don’t know how artists can take themselves up to the festival anymore, it’s becoming totally out of reach financially. Without the artist support package we received for this year, on top of the Arts Council grant to make the show, there’s no way we’d be able to afford coming to Edinburgh. And to be honest, even with all those things, we’re still out on our arses. 

How has your background, upbringing and education had an impact on your artistic career?

This is a big question! Both of us come from lower socio-economic backgrounds and are struggling for cash all the time. So that’s a massive barrier. We’re both lucky enough to have mates we can crash with up there, otherwise it simply would not be possible at all.  

Zoey: When I got into theatre I thought- well, at least I know how to be poor already. I think if I had come from a more comfortable background, this lifestyle would have been more of a shock. Although I recently bumped into an actor I went to college with when I was serving prosecco at an art opening, and she was genuinely considering buying a £12,000 piece of art. She said “I shouldn’t really!” and I was like, I said that about getting a £2 coffee from Greggs the other day. So maybe my theory about being used to it being easier is actually just to make myself feel better about it all!

Clem: Growing up, neither of my parents had steady 9-5 jobs. My dad trained at an agricultural college in Wales but never had a permanent job anywhere, preferring the freedom of freelance odd-jobbing, and my mum is an artist but had to teach on the side for a while to make ends meet (she’s now Skipton’s answer to Grayson Perry.) I was exposed to a different way of working in the world which meant that 9-5 jobs never lasted for very long… (I got fired a lot). I was more comfortable in the chaos of being an artist as it’s what I grew up with. I knew that I wouldn’t have financial security but in exchange, I get to make stuff and I have more autonomy with my own time. 

What is your favourite thing about performing for a live audience?

Clem: This is probably such a cliché but my favourite part of performing to a live audience is when something happens spontaneously that isn’t ‘supposed’ to happen. I remember performing in the French farce La Puce à l’Oreille whilst at uni (female lead, no big deal, whatever) and our amazing set designing team built a fireplace for the show. There was a big scene where almost all of the cast were on stage for some kind of reveal and just before we got to the crescendo of the scene, the fireplace came off the wall and smashed to the floor. There was a big cloud of dust and everyone was silent for a beat before one of the cast announced ‘I love what you’ve done with the place.’ - I mean you had to be there but the whole auditorium erupted (I PROMISE IT WAS FUNNY AT THE TIME!)  

What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you while performing?

Clem: I was touring my last one-woman show SKANK in 2021 and on our way back home from London we stopped off in Watford for their Fringe festival. The show was at 4:45pm in a standard old-fashioned 200-seater venue. We sold 10 tickets. The stage was raised and it had classic wings at either side, covered by red curtains. The set for SKANK included 2 sets of fairy lights which we’d use to make a circle on the floor to denote the playing area, these were plugged in offstage in the wings - I assure you this is relevant. Anyway, we had a lovely stagehand called Chris who was in charge of letting me know my final calls. The show starts, the 10 people (who were not told to sit in the front and were therefore as far away from the stage as possible) are absolutely loving it, I can see Chris very clearly in the wings and I’m hoping he leaves as it’s a bit distracting. Chris does leave - in a way. He walks around the back of the stage and appears in the wings on the other side. Chris then proceeds to stack heavy chairs, whilst clanging mic stands around, with absolutely no attempt at being quiet. I start to laugh but quickly realise that the audience cannot hear the one-man band happening right next to my ears. I try my best to focus on the show but then out of nowhere the fairy lights whizz past me and into the wings. Chris, bless him, got them stuck around his shoe and as he walked away, tugged the lights behind him. I thought: ‘Oh good, he’ll realise what he’s doing and f**k off.’ Nope. Chris notices that something’s caught on his ankle, shakes it off him and just walks off into the sunset none the wiser. 

What's the most challenging or unconventional venue you've ever performed in, and how did it impact the overall experience?

Clem: At Free Fringe a few years ago, our venue had a sewage issue. I mean, it doesn’t get much worse than your room smelling of poo does it? One day they shut the whole place down because it had properly flooded. Imagine. But on top of that (yeah there’s more) the door to our room had broken off. It never got fixed so we leant it up against the door hole like a rock in front of a cave. To make matters worse, we had a fair few walkouts, so the people leaving couldn’t do it discreetly at all. They were committed to hating us so much that they lifted a door to leave.  

Is there a piece of feedback you've received from an audience member or critic after a performance that’s stuck with you?

Clem: All of the negative ones are imprinted on my brain forever. Last year a critic from the Scotsman said about the ending of SKANK: ‘as conceited as it is contrived.’ It was very upsetting. After reading it, I shouted: ‘No it’s not! If you’d been paying attention, you wouldn’t have thought that!’ Then I just growled and gritted my teeth before feeling utterly worthless for a few days.  

What is your favourite thing to do in Edinburgh when you're not performing? How do you relax and look after your mental health?

Clem: I love to go to Meadowlark Yoga next to the meadows. It’s a little haven away from the festival. I went there a lot in my 4th year of uni so it’s a comforting place for me and the teachers are just incredible. I find that doing something physical with my body really helps to take my mind off of anything that might be causing me anxiety whilst I’m at the Fringe - which is where yoga comes in! I’ve also really enjoyed wild swimming this year so I’m hoping to convince Zoey to get in the sea with me! Being in the sea just puts things into perspective, you feel so small in a good way. You get that bit of relief even if after you get out you go back to ruminating, you’ve at least had a bit of a break from your brain. Also, hanging out with people! Making friends! I have a habit of isolating myself when my mental health isn’t tip top! But I always feel better meeting up with people and chatting as opposed to avoiding everyone. Oh! And Mosque Kitchen is always great for some comfort eating. 

Is there a show you’re excited to see when you’re up there?

Clem: My good mate Harry Stachini is going up with his stand-up hour Grenade and I can’t wait to be in the audience and cheer him on in Scotland. I’m a big fan. He’s just fantastic at what he does and he’s also an absolute dream of a person. A GOOD LAD! My other good mate Eva O’Connor is taking her new show Chicken to Summerhall, where she’s performing as a life size chicken in a rubber chicken suit. Need I say more? I’m also really excited to see Lucy Mccormick as I’ve never seen her perform before but her energy is electric, and I’ve only heard good things. 

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone thinking about taking a show up to Edinburgh? If you’ve never been before, what would you say has been (potentially) the most useful?

ClemWe seem to have got to Edinburgh on luck, hard work and flashing our tits to the right people (not really), so we’re not sure we’re in a place to give advice on the business stuff! 

I think finding time for yourself, having some kind of safe haven away from all the madness is important. If you can sit on some grass or a comfy corner of your digs and recentre yourself, don’t feel guilty about it. It’s easy to get FOMO and think you need to be cramming in shows and flyering and networking and social media into every second of your day but you’re only one person, and you have to be with yourself every second of every day until you die so be nice to yourself for god’s sake! Or Zoey will come and pin you down and forcefully put those cucumber slices on your eyes screaming “PLEASE, RELAX!”


Please Love Me will be performed at 8.20pm in Pleasance Dome (Ace Dome) from 2nd – 26th August (Not 7th, 14th or 21st)

Booking link: https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/please-love-me

Header Image Credit: Liam Rigby

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

We need your help supporting young creatives

Recent posts by this author

View more posts by Tom Inniss

0 Comments

Post A Comment

You must be signed in to post a comment. Click here to sign in now

You might also like

Fronteiras Theatre Lab returns to the Scottish stage with La Niña Barro

Fronteiras Theatre Lab returns to the Scottish stage with La Niña Barro

by Storytelling PR

Read now