Love, Love, Love

Wed 20th – Sat 23rd January 2016

reviews

Clare Cavenagh

at 01:23 on 21st Jan 2016

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If you're looking for something to fill that awkward gap in your schedule that exactly coincides with the ADC late show slot, then Love, Love, Love is the ideal play for you. If you're generally busy at 11 pm, then you should cancel everything else and go anyway. The whole audience were blown away, laughing loudly, gasping in shock, and even wiping away the odd tear as this play meandered through the long-term life of a couple, and then a family who were at times painfully, and exasperatingly recognisable. The theatre was far from full, and the play too good to be wasted on so small an audience. Go and see it immediately, and take all your friends.

Love, Love, Love charts the evolving relationships of a couple who meet, fall in love, reproduce, fall out of love, and then drift on to somewhere else. The plot is separated into three sections, one in the 1960s, one in the 90s, and one somewhere very near today. These changes were depicted by the rearrangement of the furniture in the lounge onstage - just like in real life the furniture moved, the telly got newer and the knick-knacks changed, but the key elements stayed the same. Each 'era' was also separated from the others by a montage of news footage lasting a few minutes, a kind of zoom forward through the intervening years. These were very effective and well put together, their subject matter growing more frightening and their volume rising as the play hurtled towards the present. The tension in the outside world mirrored (and perhaps to an extent explained?) the tensions which were also constantly present within the house.

These tensions were always entirely recognisable, and very often bitingly funny, eliciting the kind of laughter that sat right between disapproval, discomfort and a strange kind of delight. But in spite of its undeniable hilarity, Love, Love, Love can perhaps best be described as a kind of tragedy. For all its movement and focus on the passing of time and the changes that necessarily occur everywhere, this play is tragic in that so many aspects of it don't change. The characters, no matter how many years they have to sort themselves and everyone else out, don't quite manage to change or evolve, and this will ultimately be their tragic downfall.

Each one of these complex and flawed characters was depicted with believability and flair by the fantastic cast. Eleanor Mack was in equal measure alluring and infuriating as the wife and mother Sandra, and Ben Martineau's Henry, her initial fleeting love interest never stood a chance against her. Ben Walsh morphed over the course of the play from an arrogant and eccentric Oxford undergraduate into a fumbling old man, bringing comedy and charm to each phase even as his character, Kenneth, unwittingly mucked things up. Joe Pieri did a great job as the younger brother Jamie, a bright but slightly odd teenager who may or may not succeed at growing up, and deserves innumerable points for a very memorable dance number. But the show was stolen by Amy Malone as Rose, the daughter, the only character able to back away enough from the family to recognise its problems, but tragically, perhaps not able to do the same with herself.

Love, Love, Love earned big laughs and enthusiastic applause from its audience, but ultimately painted an uncompromising picture of a family which has found itself spread somewhat uncomfortably across two very different eras. The characters, although complex and sometimes difficult to like, held attention and emotional investment all the way to the end. Superb performances and confident direction ensured that the deft contrast of constant change and terrible stagnation was beautifully communicated. This play is excellent, and deserves a sell-out run. You should definitely go and see it.

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