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Lovesong (Plymouth)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Frantic Assembly takes its usual dynamic pace down a beat with the beautifully haunting Lovesong which opens its UK tour in Plymouth.

In collaboration with The Drum Theatre Plymouth and Chichester Festival Theatre, the award-winning company mesmerises with its trademark combination of physicality and music, style and story.

Lovesong is the gentle tale of a couple at the outset of their marriage and at the end blending past and present with fleeting memory and with elusive glimpses of their younger selves. Bordering on the whimsical at times but managing to avoid cloying conceit, BAFTA winner Abi Morgan’s play is bittersweet and good supply of tissues may be needed.

Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett direct tightly to ensure the pace keeps the stage a maudlin-free zone, and their trademark choreography is superb.

At times almost erotic, the balletic movement develops the relationships between the couples, and between past and present with a satisfying poignancy.

William (Edward Bennett) and Margaret (Leanne Rowe) are newcomers taking a risk on a new life in a new country. Dentist William takes a gamble on their future, making decisions without consulting his feisty bride while she, tired of waiting for children to ‘happen’, forges a career for herself outside the home.

Juxtapositioning the first few years of their lives together – the ups and downs, betrayals and disappointments, friends and events – with the last few days brings a cohesive whole centring on familiarity, understanding and acceptance. And in between are the unspoken years of just being together through thick and thin.

Constant throughout is the family home and garden which designer Merle Hensel has kept simple and imaginative: a table, chairs, accommodating bed, roomy fridge and Narnia-like wardrobe all standing on a floor of fallen leaves.

Playing the older couple, Sam Cox is dryly humorous as the bereft Billy while Sian Phillips eclipses a talented cast with her portrayal of single-minded Maggie mixing arthritic stumblings with fluid movement which belies her advanced years.

With lighting (by Andy Purves), sound (Carolyn Downing) and video (Ian William Galloway) enhancing the mood, Lovesong is an atmospheric, gentle, humorous tear-jerker.


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