Posted 20 hours ago

Lovesong (Oberon Modern Plays)

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It's not often that you hear mass sobbing in the theatre, but it's all sniffles during the latter stages of this new Frantic Assembly show. But it is also admirably clear-eyed about the ups and downs of a happy, childless marriage: the little betrayals, the thoughtless chatters of friends, the need to sometimes escape another person even if you love them, the lack of legacy, the terrible fear of turning into one of those couples "facing one another over a cooling cup of coffee with nothing left to say". Despite maintaining their individual personality traits, the relationship of the couple seemed to change in many ways as they grew older.

The kitchen and bedroom of Maggie and Billy's house, where the walls were never scribbled on by longed-for children, are stalked by the ghosts of their younger selves: the smooth-skinned, radiant Margaret (Leanne Rowe) and William (Edward Bennett). One of these moments was when William went to the fridge to drink for the first time during an argument with Margaret, and his older self shut the fridge door behind him. Lovesong’ worked as a Dali timepiece but made one ache for a recent past when such lovely works of art could be enjoyed in real time. It's hardly surprising: Abi Morgan's love story, spanning the 40-year marriage of Maggie (Siân Phillips) and Billy (Sam Cox), is as tender as the bruised peaches that fall to the ground in the garden of the elderly couple's US home.One example of this is through voice; both characters of Margaret spoke with a fast paced, pronounced British accent. It had been mentioned earlier that taking too many of these blue pills would consequently end her life, and so having this repetition each time she took one built the tension leading up to her death.

Often when both couples appeared in the same scene together, the young couple were lit in a soft, warm coloured lighting whilst the old couple were often left in darkness. The absolute precision and fluidity of movement that was choreographed created the sense of the performance feeling like an actual love song.

There is something a trifle over-elegiac about the evening, and the script is frustratingly hazy on detail. Fugee (National Theatre), 27 (National Theatre of Scotland), Love Song (Frantic Assembly) and The Mistress Contract (Royal Court Theatre). That powerful image of time as a viscous fluid, disappearing before our eyes, gradually leaking into oblivion, came to mind while watching ‘Lovesong’ on Digital Theatre.

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