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That's Love (tour – Stevenage)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Take three people. Together, as the 1970s advance and fashions in entertainment change even faster than in Carnaby Street, they make up a variety act. Frank has all the money, some of the talent and absolutely no charisma. Sarah, Frank’s wife, has looks and talent. Tony – who may, or may not, be Sarah’s true soulmate – has talent. Now what?

Ron Aldridge’s play That/’s Love was premiered three years ago by the Mill at Sonning. The author has directed this new touring production for Ian Dickens which has Vicki Michelle as Sarah in the 21st century, Leslie Grantham as Tony and Glyn Grain as Frank. In the flashback sequences which illustrate why Tony is now in a nursing home being visited by Sarah and Frank, Nicola Weks plays the young Sarah, Neil Andrew Tony, and Damian Hunt Frank.

The setting by Alan Miller-Bunford is semi-naturalistic. As the play opens, we see Sarah reprising her main song-and-dance number, but alone on stage. By the time this sequence is repeated at the end, the context becomes clear. This is both a comedy and a tragedy, a romantic story with its feet firmly planted in reality, albeit reality of the show business variety. It all conjures up some extremely effective performances, from both the older and more junior cast members..

Michelle is thoroughly credible as the woman with a conscience as well as desires, and Grantham matches her as Tony’s spiky personality is shown to have been developed by circumstances as well as his innate characteristics. The scene in which modern Frank suddenly lets decades of accumulated bile spill out in a bitter confrontation with Tony puts Grain back firmly at the centre-stage from which the other two characters have displaced him. Andrew and Weeks in the flashback sequences are believable precursors.


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