LOVE ME DO
by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran.
Palace Theatre 20 Clarendon Road WD17 1JZ To 18 October 2014.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Wed, Sat & 14, 16 Oct 2.30pm.
Audio-described 11 Oct 2.30pm.
Captioned 7 Oct.
Runs 1hr 35min No interval.
TICKETS: 01923 225671.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 6 October.
Watford triumphs with finely-choreographed comedy of threats to nuclear family and the whole world.
This was originally a radio play, though you’d hardly guess it – the original idea was a TV reworking of Brief Encounter. And The Wizard of Oz isn’t forgotten as a Dorothy from Kansas is swept off her feet when she leaves her family behind to go to a friend’s wedding in London.
The sweeper in Love Me Do is fellow-American military officer Shack. Their several day tryst falls in October 1962, when the world might have been about to end with the stand-off between the USA and a Soviet Union landing nuclear arms in Communist Cuba.
It’s against this threat that the developing love of Dorothy and Shack explodes, though still within the code of behaviour from adults who grew-up in earlier, more reserved decades. A complex of loyalties are the issue rather than the joy of sex.
There are earnest debates between the two, especially as the relationship moves inevitably onwards. But Palace Director Brigid Larmour wisely decided to work with physical theatre director Shona Morris and the result reinforces the comedy inherent in the writing of Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, well-established penmen behind multiple TV sitcoms.
October 1962 was also the month The Beatles’ launched their first single, which gives the play its apt title. But it’s the rapping sounds and melodic teasing of Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’ that bind the action throughout, the brevity of radio drama’s scenes turned to advantage as Larmour and Morris create a stylised ensemble movement.
Amidst this comes a train of cartoon-like cameos, suggesting the shallowness of Dorothy’s Kansas family life and of the early sixties London scene, reduced to a background – acted with comic accomplishment – by the increasing depth and emotional obsession between Dorothy and Shack.
The risk is, their later arguments seem to belong to a more naturalistic piece than the rest. But Sara Topham and Robert Curtis, showing Dorothy’s exhilaration and Shack’s personable smoothness developing genuine feeling, hold matters together.
And the play’s quiet climax, where survival brings both relief and the implications of awkward decisions to be made, is a fine mix of resolution and question.
Dorothy: Sara Topham.
Shack: Robert Curtis.
Richard/Martin/Jonathan: Hugo Bolton.
Patrick/Sir Horace/Comedian/BBC Newsreader: Peter Clements.
Marie/Candice/Lindsay/Singer: Rosie Holden.
Directors: Brigid Larmour, Shona Morris.
Designer: Ruari Murchison.
Lighting: David Howe.
Sound/Composer: James Frewer.
Dialect coach: Helen Ashton.