Left: (l-r) Sophia Ragavelas, James Millar, Amelia Cormack and David Harris
Standing in the bar after the performance, my friends and I threw around adjectives in an attempt to harness our reaction to this show. Words like refreshing, delightful, surprising and clever were heartily agreed upon, and our emotional and intellectual responses to the production fuelled some lively, fun discussion.
Lovebites is a series of 7 stories told through a catchy and beautifully written song cycle. 2 male and 2 female performers play all the roles in the scenarios which are told from one character’s perspective about the discovery of their love, and then embellished in Act 2 when we hear from their other-half about how it ended up. There is something for everyone in this colourful and inspiring collection that doesn’t dodge the awkward moments or taboo issues. The final song, “Love, bring me some water” was perfectly imbued with enough passion, forgiveness and hope to warm the most jaded and closed heart.
Written by James Millar and composed by Peter Rutherford, Lovebites encapsulated their intention to say something different about the changing nature of romantic love in each of the relationship snapshots. In doing so, there was something so engaging about the performance in that we could all relate to one or many of the characters we saw on stage. The themes of loyalty, infidelity, homosexuality and commitment were just some of the many issues raised between the couples.
Although it is terribly difficult to pick a standout number, “A Plastic Bag” which plays out and then provides closure for a widely told urban legend had the audience in complete stiches, and the cleverly incorporated adaptation of “Sweeney Todd” was most amusing. With that said though, every scene was memorable. The characters and feelings were so accessible that each moment was engaging to watch. The music was so beautifully written and the lyrics so inspiring that several of us purchased the soundtrack on the way out.
Vocally, the cast (James Millar, Amelia Cormack, David Harris and Sophia Ragavelas) was flawless. The harmonies were tight and the diversity was quite astounding. All four singers were equally capable of “rocking out” as they were singing exquisite, classical arias. This range was required for the production, which utilised a wide variety of styles to tell the love stories. With only a piano as accompaniment, one may have thought that the sound may have been a little bare. This couldn’t have been further from the truth, as the piano and four singers created a full texture and well balanced sound.
The set was a design and directive coup. A stark white stage with two multi-functional, 3-sided boxes and two small benches were all that was required to create each scene. The choreographed movement of these set pieces was done by the cast with swift precision and the visual backdrop enhanced the setting and atmosphere of each scene.
Although it was performed with Australian references and natural Aussie accents, this show would be easily transferrable to any culture, with a couple of people suggesting it would be perfect for off-Broadway. However, it’s on at the Playhouse now and closing at the end of this week. I would suggest that writing, production and performances of this calibre make Lovebites a show not to be missed.
Onward Production presents
by James Millar and Peter Rutherford
Venue: Playhouse Theatre
Dates: 24 June - 11 July, 2010
Tickets: Standard $45.00, Concession $37.00, Students $19.90, Children Under 12 Years $9.90
Bookings: BOCS Ticketing 9484 1133