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'Shades Of Mediocrity': The Disappointing Realities of Folk Fandom

Lily Levinson and Maeve Campbell star in ‘Shades of Mediocrity’, named after lyrics in a Simon and Garfunkel song (‘Homeward Bound’). Directed by Minna Jeffery, the performance follows the story of how Lily and Maeve became fans of Simon and Garfunkel, a folk rock duo, and how they wanted to become like them.

Photo credit: Good Friends for a Lifetime

Since Lily had a main role in her school production, she realised that she liked attention and desired to become famous. However, throughout the show the audience learn that they were not particularly successful in achieving their aim of following the success of their idols. They convey this in a funny way, claiming that Simon and Garfunkel performed in Central Park to 500,000 people, while they struggle to get £10 from the Arts Council.

They smoothly moved from talking about their own experiences to acting out parts of Simon and Garfunkel’s career, including interviews with them and their speech after winning an award following their split. I must admit I barely knew anything about Simon and Garfunkel, but this has changed after seeing this, I am now aware of various facts about them, from where they were born to the different types of fans that they both had.

Although the performance was humorous, deep issues were explored. Lily and Maeve spoke about their personal experiences, ranging from general anxieties about not wanting to try things because you do not want to start and then be disappointed by your efforts or results, to a specific situation Maeve found herself in where she won a school talent contest, but she was booed because a more popular boy didn’t win.

They also explored the difficulties faced when working together, which can be compared to Simon and Garfunkel’s experience. Their disagreements had an impact on the work that Lily and Maeve produce, and Simon and Garfunkel did end up splitting. There is a danger with working professionally with friends, as this can affect the friendship in negative, as well as positive ways. Finally, they explored wider issues such as the idea that women are not encouraged to display confidence in the same way as men. It is considered the norm for men to have obsessions with things (such as football), whereas if women are obsessed with celebrities, for example, this is viewed as strange. There were few props on the stage, just a couple of chairs and microphones, but this did not matter. I liked the use of a screen to show different types of media, including videos and images of the two girls reacting to their own quotes, which had the audience laughing.

Overall, it was a great performance from ‘Good Friends for a Lifetime’, exploring niche fandom, and personal as well as social concerns that they came across by exploring their fandom.

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