Over 8 decades ago, Walter Greenwood produced a text that would go on to change his fortune, and force the then government to rethink some of their policies on job prospects and conditions. Hailing from a working class background, Greenwood, once leaving school found himself in a climate of uncertainty as he wrestled between acquiring low paid jobs and unemployment. During the latter, Grenwood’s Love on the Dole was born; a realistic commentary on the political climate from the perspective of working class citizens.
Taking residence at The Space Theatre, the Changing Face Collective‘s Love on the Dole‘s striking staging made possible by Anna Bonomelli evokes a Dickensian hardship. Masses of garments adorn washing lines suspended midair, beautifully encapsulating the everyday in all of its harshness as well as its glory. Bonomelli‘s staging is gripping, an amalgamation of traverse and black box staging, the cast brilliantly keep the space buzzing with activity.
The evening’s intention is to shine a light on the masses of working class faces that are quite often or not reserved to a series of statistics, and shines a bright light on various relationships, and the impact the dire economical world around them has on them. The cast, consisting of Jess Cumming‘s Sally Hardcastle and Oliver Scullion‘s Larry Meath, are love’s young dream and are the heart of the evening. The evening however lacks true jeopardy and this is partly due to the editing. The script is longer than it has to be, with scenes benefitting from being snappier.
Themes of the day, such as unemployment, relationships, love and class present themselves, resonating with the watching crowd. These themes are not preached, they subtly play alongside the narrative making the evening a subtle one. An episodic structure guides the evening, modernising the tale of a 1920s northern England and making for a considered framework to contain the large ensemble.
Noted mentions to Vivienne Brown‘s Mrs Dorbell, Kathryn Worth‘s Mrs Bull and Ivana Mazza-Coates Mrs Sike. The trio, the comical anecdote to an otherwise quite serious evening. The second act truly witnesses the production’s emotional potential with the breaking out of riots on the streets. I can’t help but think that perhaps the production could have started off with this chaos, this sense of protest… if it did… where could it have led us… 3/5
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Love on the Dole was shown at The Space Theatre until Saturday 5th March. For more information on the Changing Face Collective, visit here…