Trying to pinpoint the formula for the perfect relationship is about as simple as finding a needle in a haystack. Like fingerprints, no two relationships are the same. From the first moment you set eyes on ‘the love of your life’, move in with your prospective partner, to the much lauded and celebrated wedding day, priorities and emotions change. With the prospect of marriage serving as the ultimate declaration of love, does this constitute the happy ever after we’ve all been lead to believe? Will everything be plain sailing from there on in?
Initially performed at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre in 2012, Lovesong fuses Frantic Assembly‘s innovative performance style with a heart warming and evocative script courtesy of Abi Morgan. Spanning over a time period of roughly 50 years, Lovesong chronicles the tumultuous relationship of married couple William and Margaret. A bruising and honest portrait of a couple’s coming to grips with the inevitability of loss and loneliness, the production provides a cross generational observation of not only the external societal changes surrounding the couple, but the complex emotional and psychological landscape in which their lifelong partnership survives.
Sam Cox enchants as the disgruntled and agitated William. Paired up with Sian Phillips‘ caring and protective Margaret, scenes jostle between moments of unspoken heartbreak and the daily pre-occupations of the couple. A silent melancholy follows the couple’s footsteps as they adjust to the ailments and challenges that arise in later life. Travelling back in time to the couple’s 20s, Edward Bennett charms as the endearing yet head strong breadwinner of the household. As the younger version of William, Bennett displays a stubbornness typical of an era in which the patriarch ruled the roost, his role defined by providing an income to support the family. His struggling to accept his wife’s choice to help sustain the family by building a career of her own serves as a startling reminder of how times and opportunities have progressed.
Leanne Rowe embodies an ambitious yet vulnerable quality to Margaret. Ruled by conversations of hypothetical families and new homes, the couple are the vision of young love; from the attendance of awkward work functions to the less stressful moments of sitting in the garden and letting the world pass by. Both versions of Margaret and William strikingly mirror one another, Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett‘s direction and choreography magically allows for both pairs to transcend time and cross over into each others realities. Movement sequences connect and unite as contemporary fused duets and quartets break up the dialogue, whilst Merle Hensel‘s visually arresting backdrop consisting of starlings sweeping over a series of images symbolic of love hypnotises.
Abi Morgan‘s script nostalgically draws on the ghosts of the past, whilst simultaneously keeping a firm foot in the present. Youthful squabbles transform into elongated moments of silence, declarations of love, deflected by the day to day realties of prescriptions and post it notes. Lovesong is a moving and poignant piece of theatre highlighting the multi-faceted and mercurial nature of love and relationships. 4/5