Love, Love, Love
From: Tuesday, 24th May 2011
To: Saturday, 28 May 2011
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1967. Kenneth and Sandra know the world is changing. And they want some of it. Love, Love, Love takes on the baby boomer generation as it retires, and finds it full of trouble. Smoking, drinking, affectionate and paranoid, Mike Bartlett’s play follows one couple’s forty-year journey from initial burst to full bloom.
25 May 2011
It’s been hailed as a landmark play for its skewering of the baby boomer generation. But if Love Love Love is meant to be some kind of state-of-the-nation piece, highlighting the irreconcilable differences between the Flower Power people and their Thatcherite offspring, then it’s not any nation that I recognise.
Mike Bartlett’s play, nearing the end of a UK tour, follows one idealistic couple from their first pot-influenced meeting in 1967, through parenthood to two teenagers in 1990, to a final act in the present day, in which their selfish, hedonistic lifestyles have come back to haunt them with a vengeance.
There are a number of problems with this, quite apart from the unreachable requirement on the actors to age more than 40 years convincingly. Chief among them is the lack of any kind of growth of the characters: Kenneth and Sandra are just as destructively hideous at the end as they were at the beginning. There are, quite literally, no redeeming features, and the fa...
Latest User Review
Gareth James - 27 May 2011:
Back in at the lovely Royal Theatre in Northampton for the second time in as many months to catch the Paines Plough tour of this Mike Bartlett three-act play. We start in 1967 on the night the world first watched TV together and The Beatles premiered All You Need is Love (from which the play takes its title). Oxford student Kenneth is staying with his older brother and proceeds to steal his girlfriend Sandra. Jump forward 23 years and Kenneth & Sandra are now married with careers, two teenagers and a house in Reading, but they’re about to split up. Jump forward another 21 years and we’re in retired Kenneth’s home with his son as the ex-wife and daughter / sister are about to visit. This is a slow burn because it’s not until the third act we understand what Bartlett is getting at – it’s all the baby boomers fault! Though I think this is a valid and much ignored premise, I don’t agree that the response of the baby boomers is to focus on spending their ‘wealth’ and ignoring the woes of their children in our new inaccessible property / low pay society. Though I don’t have children, most of my friends who do are making significant sacrifices (including re-mortgaging their homes) to help their children. However, it is right to hold them (US!) to account. It’s an original, captivating and well structured piece. The jumps forward between acts do mean long intervals (with, in our case, an over-run of 20 minutes) that slow down the dramatic flow. It also means actors have to age between 21 and 44 years – a bit of a tall order – and it’s to their credit that they just about pull it off. Ben Addis does particularly well moving from irresponsible student to responsible husband & father and on to irresponsible oldie. James Barrett (so good in the Bush’s 2nd May 1997) is outstanding as both a carefree 14-year old and a troubled 35-year old. Rosie Wyatt’s performed with great passion as an angry 16-year old and an even angrier 37 year-old. A fascinating and deeply satisfying play from a playwright who is leading the way in modern state-of-the-nation drama that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. Well worth the trip to Northampton. Only one more stop on the tour in Oxford – be there!...