LOVE, 4Star****, Birmingham, to 11 02

LOVE: Alexander Zeldin

Birmingham Rep, Studio: to 11 February 2017
Runs: 1h 35m, no interval
BO: 0121 236 4455

Review Alexander Ray Edser, 31 01 17

Unusual and unusually powerful
LOVE is a powerful piece of social realism. It’s strength stems from director and playwright, Zeldin’s understanding of and commitment to the form. There is almost a lack of narrative drive; centred around the lives of a disparate group of people existing in a Local Authority temporary housing hostel, the action stems from the way the people fight to retain some kind of dignity in the desperate situations we (as Society) have put them in. The dialogue gives the impression of not being structured, of being improvised. There are no conventional dramatic climaxes, so that we sense this really is life as it is (barely) lived by those caught up in it. And should there be any doubt, let me say once more, these are strengths in this style of work.

We see out of work Dean, his pregnant partner, his two primary school children, desperate with hope of re-housing and existing on soup and food bank cans. We see Colin struggling to look after his elderly mother. And others, possibly refugees. There are two constants in all their lives, the ever-present enemy of State Bureaucracy and the love which binds the family groups together. How hopeful we are that fragile love will survive. How certain are we it will hold?

This is a strong ensemble company; they all ring true but none more so than Luke Clarke as the vulnerable young father fighting to keep it all together, and Anna Calder-Marshall as the elderly Barbara.

Zeldin manages the whole with sensitivity and passion for his cause. There are occasional lapses when the dialogue does not quite ring true, but these are far outweighed by the over-all dynamics and rhythms, including long silences. Harrowing stuff, but inspiring and giving much to think about.

Thanwa: Hind Swareldahab
Colin: Nick Holder
Dean: Luke Clarke
Paige: Emily Beacock / Darcey Brown / Grace Doherty
Barbara: Anna Calder-Marshall
Emma: Janet Etuk
Jason: Vitaly Outkine / Yonaten Pele Roorinar / Bobby Stallwood
Adnam: Amnar Haj Ahnad

Director: Alexander Zeldin
Designer: Natasha Jenkins
Lighting Designer: Marc Williams
Sound Designer: Josh Anlio Grigg
Movement: Marcin Rudy
Fight Director: Kev McCurdy
Company voice Work: Cathleen McCarron

2017-01-31 11:03:01

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