by Erich Segal book by Stephen Clark lyrics by Stephen Clark and Howard Goodall music by Howard Goodall.
Minerva Theatre To 26 June 2010.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Sat & 17, 23 June 2.15pm.
Audio-described 19 June 2.15pm.
Runs 1hr 50min No interval.
TICKETS: 01243 781312.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 12 June.
Musical about death rarely come to life, apart from the strings attached.
Of all the stories of all the countries in all the world, what made composer Howard Goodall turn to this forty-year old novel-turned-film, apparently one of Hollywood’s most effective acts of emotional manipulation?
Love Story is sad without being tragic. It has no struggle to show much about its characters. A Harvard student leaves it till the day before his exam to obtain a book he needs, falls for the librarian, goes with her for coffee instead of reading, yet – Presto! – passes the exam.
And gets a high-paying lawyering job. While she gives up plans to further her piano-playing in Paris to marry him. No dilemma, she just does it. Then she’s diagnosed with leukaemia and dies aged twenty-five (the death, if not the diagnosis, is sung-about at the start).
Amid all this, his major problem is approaching his estranged father to borrow money for her treatment (it’s given immediately). Almost every character is a cipher to the far-from-great account. Only her humble dad has any sense of character, and that’s largely owing to Peter Polycarpou’s performance. Polycarpou makes Phil’s concern at his daughter giving up music seem like the destruction of his long-held dream, while he stands, a lost figure on the stage at her death.
The death’s the best moment of Rachel Kavanaugh’s swift, efficient production. Emma Williams rises from Jenny’s death-bed, walking away as the others look at her imaginary corpse. It’s fitting. Williams’ lively performance, suggesting the feeling Jenny keeps below her wit, is the best reason for seeing the show.
The best reason for hearing it is Goodall’s score, played in his own arrangement for piano (covering Williams’ supposed playing, though why she performs the Love Story film theme is puzzling – what kind of concert was she giving?), guitar and string quintet.
The music outstrips the lyrics, their end-stopped lines seemingly unable to wait for a rhyme beyond the next line; neither of the comic list-songs is quite witty enough. But the musical textures are imaginatively varied and the melodic lines strong. This is a piece to enjoy as music rather than as a musical.
Oliver Barrett IV: Michael Xavier.
Jenny Cavilleri: Emma Williams.
Phil Cavilleri: Peter Polycarpou.
Oliver Barrett III: Rob Edwards.
Alison Barrett: Claire Carrie.
Matt: Jos Slovick.
Doctor/Tony: Keiron Crook.
Dr Ackerman: Simeon Truby.
Waitress/Secretary: Lillie Flynn.
Jenny’s Mother: Juluia Worsley.
Director: Rachel Kavanaugh.
Designer: Peter McKintosh.
Lighting: Howard Harrison.
Sound: Matt McKenzie.
Musical Staging: Nick Winston.
Musical Director: Stephen Ridley.
Dialect coach: Charmian Hoare.
Assistant director: Tom Attenborough.