ASPECTS OF LOVE
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Lyrics by Don Black & Charles Hart.
Based on the book by David Garnett.
Southwark Playhouse, the Large, 77-78 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BD to 9 February 2019.
Mon-Sat 7.30 pm Mat Tues & Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr 40 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7207 0234.
Review: William Russell 10 January
A valiant attempt to resuscitate a dire show
A polished production directed by Jonathan O’Boyle, some strong performances and Love Changes Everything, possibly the most gruesome ballad Andrew Lloyd Webber ever concocted – used endlessly as a leit motif throughout – mark this latest stripped down revival of one of his lesser works. It was famous at the time it first appeared in because Roger Moore, who would have played the elderly artist forger, quit the cast before opening allegedly because he had problems with the singing, but chances are he recognised a stinker when he saw one and his was not the leading role anyway.
Based on a would be shocking novel by David Garnet set in post war France between 1947 and 1974, it tells how seventeen year old student Alex falls for a thirty something actress call Rose, who is in between jobs, and accepts his invitation to stay at his villa – which actually belongs to George, his forger painter uncle. The pair are, of course, discovered and Rose, much to Alex’s annoyance, opts for George. But it is an open marriage as George also has an Italian mistress called Ginette. And so it goes on with everyone sleeping with everyone else, including Rose and the Italian having a Sapphic moment and Alex after military service returning and getting the hots for George and Rose’s fifteen year old daughter Jenny, an irritating Lolita figure.
The book was notable not so much for its plot as for the descriptions of the places in which this unlikeable lot cavorted, but apart from a few posters indicating change of location this stripped back production fails to deliver on that front handsome though the back wall of louvered doors undeniably is.
The two pianists make a decent job of playing the score although they do rather thump the ivories at times when what is required is more Rawicz and Landauer, and the singing by and large is rather good. Director O’Boyle has kept it all moving briskly although at two hours and 40 minutes it is a long evening, and he is lucky in his leading ladies – Kelly Price as Rose and Madalena Alberto as Ginette.
As the cause of all the trouble, the libidinous seventeen year old Alex, as man and boy he seems incapable of buttoning his flies, Felix Mosse is as pretty a juvenile lead as can be and after a rather shaky start, reveals a decent voice although he does tend to tremble a bit in the higher registers and fails to age at all over the years the story covers. He is something of a poster boy though and if the role helped Michael Ball in his career back in 1989 then it may do the same for him.
Price as Rose, however, manages the passage of time perfectly, sings extremely well – as does Alberto, both rising effortlessly to their big arias. The ensemble work hard humping tables and chairs off and on, although not all the choral work is as good as it might be and Jerome Pradon does all that can be done with George as does Eleanor Walsh with Jenny. But there are two scenes which require dance – a circus one and a funeral – which quite simply belong in another show and seem there only because the custom of the time demanded them. They stand out like that proverbial sore thumbs. There are also two scenes in which first Rose and then Jenny wear a dress belonging to George’s first wife which patently are not the same dress but different sizes, although they might have shrunk in the wash.
But if has to be revived then ignore the show, enjoy the production – even if it does not manage to create a time for these sexual goings on to take place in let alone a place – and the leads. But beware that song – famously lampooned as I Sleep with Everyone. It is vintage Lloyd Webber in that it shows his talent for composing a melody which screws into the brain rather than delights the senses. If some of the others seem familiar, Lloyd Webber, not one to waste material, recycled them in later shows.
Rose Vibert: Kelly Price.
Alex Dillingham: Felix Mosse.
George Dillingham: Jerome Prado.
Giuletta Trapani: Madalena Alberto.
Marcel Richard: Minal Patel.
Jenny Dillingham: Eleanor Walsh.
Elizabeth: Julia J Nagle.
Hugo Le Meunier: Jason Kajdi.
Jerome: jack Churms.
Waitress, actress & others: Eleanor Jackson.
Director: Jonathan O’Boyle.
Musical Director: Richard Bates.
Set & Costume Designer: Jason Denvir.
Choreographer: Sam Spencer-Lane.
Lighting Designer: Aaron J Dootson.
Sound Designer: James Nicholson.