Love Song – such a whimsical title. It is clear from the second scene of this Frantic Assembly that this is indeed the aim of the author Abi Morgan – to compose a theatrical love song of sorts to unfold upon the stage.
We start at the end and simultaneously the beginning. Two couples enact this tale of the story of Maggie and Billy, both in its youth and old age; an interesting concept. The stage is covered in autumnal fallen leaves –suggesting that the real emphasis lies in the winter of this relationship, rather than the hoped for spring.
The young couple (Edward Bennett and Leanne Rowe) move to America to further his dental career. She, after losing the hope of bearing children, finds her self with little to occupy her time and so becomes a librarian. It is a typical tale of 1950’s middle class couples. There are arguments, money troubles, fidelity issues, conception obstacles, and the inevitable challenges that arise with old age (Sam Cox and Sian Phillips). So here we are, presented with two ends of the spectrum and rather than an array of colours in between, all that I could see was grey.
This tale of the childless couple getting by with just each other has been told before. In order to make this at times extremely touching story fly, the author needed to incorporate depth, personality, passion. Yet none of that comes through in this production. Frantic Assembly focus on movement in their productions and you can see that here, movement plays an important roll in the telling of this story. It is excellently staged and the stories intertwine seamlessly, yet much like the attempted choreographed dance interludes, the telling of this worn out tale is lifeless. Even Maggie’s chosen last moments lacked any conviction. I remained unmoved.
Many of the choreographed staging moments should have been cut by directors Scott Graham and Steve Hoggett who really should know better. The multi-media back panelling added little to the stagnant set.
By the end of “Love Song” I had lost interest. There was a distinct lack of substance to these characters. I longed for texture and depth, the stuff that any good love song is comprised of. However, this lacklustre love song was markedly missing the all important verses, in the end being incapable of moving beyond the redundant the chorus.
Lovesong is on until 4 February at the Lyric Hammersmith. Click here to book tickets or call 0871 221 172