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Lovesong

By • West End
WOS Rating:
Abi Morgan is certainly riding high right now, tackling cinematic subjects from Margaret Thatcher to sex addiction with equal aplomb.

In her latest play Lovesong, a reminder of her effectiveness on stage as well as screen, she focuses on an ordinary suburban couple by showing them at the beginning and end of their marriage.

Although at times it tends to mawkishness, the story of William and Margaret (or Billy and Maggie in their older incarnations) is sensitively told as it navigates the road from marital bliss through midlife crisis to its poignant conclusion.

Edward Bennett and Leanne Rowe play the newlyweds, while Sian Phillips and Sam Cox pick up the story 50 years later. It’s a neat, if not exactly original device, made neater by the fluid interchanging of the actors as they pop out from all areas of the stage to perform the most seamless scene changes you’re likely to see.

Frantic Assembly’s production is laced with the grammar of film, most notably the projected title sequence and the Hans Zimmer-ish soundscape of Carolyn Downing; the mise-en-scène drips with significance, from the starlings in the sky to the leaves on the ground. (There's also a lovely moment where Bennett must handle a skull - I'm sure I wasn't the only one who half expected him to break into the Gravedigger scene.)

I have seen the weight-transfer dance style, performed at regular intervals throughout the piece, a few times too often now (blame Kneehigh), but nevertheless the sight of Edward Bennett lifting Sian Phillips as if she were light as a feather pillow was deeply moving. Directors and choreographers Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett organise the action effectively and with the light touch it requires.

At the curtain call I found myself surrounded by sniffles – not surprising considering that Morgan mines such a familiarly nostalgic seam. Though Lovesong falls short of the almost industrial heart-tugging of Love Story, I wouldn’t be surprised if they start selling tissues in the foyer.


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