Exploring the origins and the interchangeability of pain and joy, Abi Morgan’s Lovesong is a deceptively simple tale focussing on the layers of love and legacy. Intimate, heart breaking and warm, this journey toward the end of a relationship simultaneously grants a glimpse backwards into the shaping of a life lived together.
Exceedingly tight and never indulgent, in lesser hands this play could easily fall into self-pitying melodrama, however, so strong and insightful here are the connections between each performer that I am truly intrigued by Director Denny Lawrence’s approach. Before working as an ensemble, I wondered did each couple rehearse dialogue alone so as to later offer their opposites an informing showcase of character.
Speaking to, regretting with and learning from their younger and older projections, this incredibly strong cast seemingly pass through one another to create a poignant haze between actual moments and aching memory.
Portraying a woman failing in health yet gaining in self, Jillian Murray is simply extraordinary as Maggie. Present in every second and haunting in stillness, this standout performance is as simple as it is captivating.
As Billy, Paul English is painfully good. Warn down and desperately trying to manifest a life beyond brought forward inevitability, skilfully we see and hear from a man facing opportunity laced with loneliness and lacking accustomed structure.
From newly married expectant joy to the brink of something else; the back and forth contrasting of time is beautifully realised by Maddy Jevic as Margaret. Without ever descending into bitterness this is a targeted look at a young woman journeying decreasing optimism.
Dylan Watson is spot on in his depiction of principled and conceptually ambitious William. Painfully seeping disappointment and bridging fidelity, masculinity and responsibility we see where decay warmed into his older version.
Never intrusive, on stage throughout underpinning the action with an evocative original score from composer Gemma Turvey is cellist Campbell Banks. Beyond live music, the cello also offers the play its soundscape. This is a genuinely lovely device that further enhances our sense of being witness to something very personal.
Designer Adrienne Chisolm makes superb use of Red Stitch’s minimal space with her versatile set. Enriched with lighting from Clare Springett, the overall effect suggests a loving home and garden that once again, perfectly supports the intimacy of the narrative
Red Stitch Actors Theatre means what it says in its mission statement and really does put the artist at the centre of its practice. In this staging, all creative elements have been sharpened to the very finest of points and as a consequence, we have no choice other than grip tightly onto the journey of two people simply traversing time.
Seriously good stuff.
Red Stitch Actors Theatre presents
by Abi Morgan
Director Denny Lawrence
Venue: Red Stitch Actors Theatre | Rear 2 Chapel St, St Kilda VIC
Dates: 21 August – 23 September 2018
Tickets: $15 - $55
Bookings: (03) 9533 8083 | www.redstitch.net