Thursday, 31 May 2012

Love, Love, Love

I will refrain from the obvious puns about Mike Bartlett's play, Love, Love, Love, now on at The Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square, but it was really excellent! Continuing on my mad theatre run, it was another girls night out at a play. And people say the young only drink to excess and watch too much television.

I read Bartlett's Earthquakes in London earlier this year and it blew my mind. The intricacy of the plots and snappy dialogue was irresistible and I am so sorry not to have seen it performed, because I really want to see that set! Is an overcrowded, overflowing, decadent stage a set designers dream or nightmare - perhaps a little of both? If anyone ever hears of this being performed, please tell me immediately. But I digress, because this post is about Love, Love, Love.

Picture from www.RoyalCourtTheatre.com, click for link to site


Monday evening found me up in the last seat of the second to last row of the Royal Court, thoroughly enjoying a portrait of the family of two children of the 60s. Divided into three acts, the play looks in on the lives of Kenneth and Sandra on the night they meet in 1967, the night they decide to get divorced in 1990 and finally a day in 2011 when then 37-year-old daughter, Rosie, blames them and their generation for her inability to succeed. Their romance begins when Sandra comes to spend the evening with Kenneth's older and stodgier brother, Henry, but ends up with Kenneth. From the beginning of their relationship in this betrayal, their lives are filled with betrayals small and large.

Most reviewers have noted that this is an indictment of baby boomers as selfish and having ruined the world for their children. This seems to be based mainly on the fact that Sandra and Kenneth are both selfish and self-involved, but also on Rosie's tirade in the last act. She accuses her parents of not fulfilling the claims of the 60s, "You didn't change the world, you bought it. Privatised it." She blames them for everything from her not having a stable relationship and child to Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. An adult temper tantrum is rarely endearing and this makes Bartlett's play much more nuanced than the credit critics are currently giving it credit for.

Rosie's character shows that the children of baby boomers have a similar sense of entitlement, in wanting both their dreams and the material things. None of his characters are without flaws or responsibility, even Jamie who seems to be mentally incapacitated by the third act. The audience is left to wonder whether is due to outside factors or to the fact that his father is supporting his clearly heavy smoking and drinking lifestyle, which started in his early teen years of act 2, while he occasionally works in menial jobs.

Love, Love, Love is filled with laughter, especially in the first two acts. During the second interval I was chatting another writer and we both agreed that though the script was laugh out loud funny, the play really needed a bleaker turn in the third act. Bartlett does not disappoint. While the second act is the strongest, he delivers pithy dialogue, topical jokes and a serious dramatic question underneath it all throughout the entire 2 1/2 hours. The cast are all extremely strong and very well cast, though it has to be said that Victoria Hamilton is outstanding as Sandra, the fast talking, self-absorbed, passionate mother. From 19-64-years-old, she transforms while still maintaining the integrity of Sandra. This three act play manages to capture the lifetime of a relationship and the effect that it has on those around them, placed squarely in 3 distinct times. The only question that remains is - What happened to poor Henry?

Love, Love, Love is playing at the Royal Court in Sloane Sq. London until June 9th. Performances are all sold out, but you can still get day-of tickets for the last Monday night performance online for just £10!

Barring that, scripts can be purchased from the Royal Court shop for the amazing price of just £3! You can get Posh (which we all know is my favourite play) for a steal at just £5.


2 comments:

  1. Another wonderful blog post. I'm highly envious of your reviewing skills; personally I have coherency of a goat, so I wouldn't even try. Henry: they spoke of his funeral, so he died. Or, if you mean what happened before he died, then yes, what happened to Henry indeed?

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  2. Thanks, Alex! I meant more dramatically, what happened to Henry. Killing him off seems a bit of a cheat. I just felt that I was left hanging on his story when he was in pretty much the entire first act and then only got a cursory mention of his funeral after that. With only five characters, I wanted a little more from him, not just to be a foil.

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