Very clever play - moving, involving, beautifully acted and directed. I don't know why a previous poster complained about length and interval ice-cream disappointment: this afternoon was 90 minutes, no interval. I've rarely concentrated so hard and been absorbed so completely in a performance. Two thirds of the audience was under the age of 18 - they laughed at the (brief) bad language and squirmed as only the young can when the older characters showed physical affection, but were completely involved and their audible feedback must have been gratifying for the actors. A great experience.
02 Feb 12
Frantic Assembly is a rather inappropriate name for a company responsible for such an understated and superbly constructed play. Although slow-moving at times Lovesong is a beautiful and gentle story of an elderly couple clearly devoted to each other facing up to the painful relities of imminent separation as she is in the final stages of a terminal disease. At the same time we see the same couple at earlier stages of their marriage surviving many difficulties including their heart-rending childlessness. Moments of tenderness are expressed through passages of lyrical dance which, for the first time, did not make me squirm with embarrassment. Not everything is perfect: the couple are relocated to America, presumably to isolate them from their families but they would never have received a Green Card; more importantly Abi Morgan's script doesn't always avoid sentimental manipulation, similar to Spielberg's War Horse, although the sad ending is handled beautifully and without a hint of mawkishness. There are exceptional performances from Edward Bennett, Sam Cox, exquisite Leanne Rowe and especially Sian Phillips protecting her husband from the full extent of her physical and emotional pain. The back row of the theatre is not the best place to experience this intimate piece from especially with an audience of schoolkids who were not all completely absorbed, but despite the distractions Lovesong proved to be a piece of rare emotional truth, intensity and beauty. - David Baxter
26 Jan 12
You know you’re at a Frantic Assembly show soon after the curtain goes up. They have a unique style which blends narrative, movement and visual beauty with an atmospheric sound scape. I must have seen more than 10 of their shows over the last 15 years or so and though they have evolved from edgy and visceral to poignant and thoughtful they are still distinctive.
This play tells the story of a couple at both the beginning and end of their relationship. The stories weave together and overlap and you learn a remarkable amount from the minimum of dialogue. From the beginnings of their relationships we see them establish themselves, buying their home and business premises, and surviving the wife’s unfaithfulness to grow old together. With their older selves, we live through life’s endgame and in particular Maggie’s terminal illness and death. This all sounds very depressing but, though it is occasionally sad, it didn’t feel like that because it’s actually very beautiful.
The stage is covered in leaves with a backdrop of tall screens set at angles to one another, onto which moving images are projected. The bedroom is to the right – just a wardrobe and bed – and the kitchen to the left – just a fridge and table & chairs. Simple but rather lovely. The actors often glide silently past one another, sometimes the old or young couple, but sometimes one of each or all four. The wardrobe and bed entrances are simply extraordinary and there’s a scene towards the end when all four are on the bed that takes your breath away.
There is an ambient music sound scape for almost the entire 90 minutes (a little too much in my view) which added to the movement and visual style creates the feeling of flowing through these people’s lives. It was a little slow in parts, but the overall impression is of watching entire lives unfold before you. At then end, the only word that would capture what I’d experienced was ‘beautiful’.
All four performers are excellent, but it’s a particular treat to see Sian Phillips in such an innovative and challenging piece at this point in her career. Film and TV writer-of-the-moment (Iron Lady and The Hour), Abi Morgan, provides a minimalist narrative which allows the other components to make equal contributions. The design of Merle Hensel (with Andy Purves’ lighting, Carolyn Downing’s sound and Ian William Galloway’s video projections) is perfect. Scott Graham & Steven Hoggett’s direction and choreography is, as always, thrilling.
Not everyone will like this unconventional and inventive show, but I did – very much. - Gareth James
22 Jan 12
Despite my initial thoughts when reading beforehand, the play didn't make me want to die. However, the only thing that made me cry was the fact that during the interval, there was no chocolate ice cream. The lighting was nice but only nice and the play was at least an hour too long. Some lovely ladies sitting in the row in front of me i must say ;)
Overall, only see this if you are female or have no friends to see anything cool with. - LadiezMan2k12
18 Jan 12
V.good. Had nice feel and bass - jim mall
18 Jan 12
The only reason I cried was because it was so terrible. I beg you not to watch such an ovverated piece of drivel. - Randy Richard
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