Lovesong

Sophie Milner

at 00:03 on 14th Mar 2014

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Studiospace’s performance of Lovesong by Abi Morgan did not fail to impress, thanks to some top-notch casting. The small cast of four worked seamlessly together in depicting an optimistic young couple on the brink of married life, right through to their old age at a point where they can finally welcome death. They are comfortable together but still have a relationship full of intrigue. Peter Chicken and Immy Davies showed a wisdom beyond their years in their portrayal of the elderly couple; it was surprisingly easy to forget how young they were when confronted with such convincing acting. Just as dynamic were the younger Maggie and Billy. Billy (Jack Deslandes) as a 20-something dentist is an elegant and cynical young man who progresses convincingly into a far more careful man of manner. Jessica Moffat, too, is lively and compelling. Her portrayal of Maggie’s struggle with her childless marriage made her the character people could empathise with.

Unfortunately, the musical interludes with interpretive dances, as inspired by the physical theatre of Frantic Assemby, although slickly performed (and including some rather impressive lifts) didn’t seem to further the plot and added an intensity which was out of balance with the sweet, poignant moments between Maggie and Billy which so characterised the performance. The most enjoyable moments were the collisions between young and old: the couple’s trifling conversations overlap, they pass each other a peach or a glass of water, and at some points they catch a glimpse of their past or future selves, all of which was beautifully choreographed under the joint direction of Sarah Brown and Hannah de Ville.

The intimate nature of the theatre itself proved not to be a problem as regards to set design; the whole space was used well and was even made to look homely. Some particularly creative decisions, such as the wardrobe door being an entrance for characters to go in young and emerge old, lent a sense of fluidity to the production which was in harmony with the overarching theme of time - something which we are all at least a little bit scared of. Such a discussion was at the heart of this play. Despite Maggie insisting on the linearity of time during the characters own discussion on it, the staging is wholly in contradiction.

The characters were accessible and at the same time, beautifully-crafted individual portraits. Overall this was a captivating and highly thought-provoking play; right at the end, synonymous with the last day of Maggie’s life, I was left with the immediate urge to phone my grandparents and demand their own life story in full.

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