by Abi Morgan.
Lyric Theatre King Street Hammersmith W6 0QL To 4 February 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat 1.30pm 18,25,31 Jan, 2 Feb
2.30pm 21, 28 Jan.
Post-show Discussion 19, 24 Jan.
TICKETS: 0871 22 117 29.
Typetalk: 18001 0871 22 117 29
then Citizens Theatre 119 Gorgals Street G5 9DS.
7-11 February 7.30pm.
Post-show Discussion 8 Feb.
TICKETS: 0141 429 0022.
then Sherman Cymru Senghennydd Road CF24 4YE.
15-18 Feb 7.30pm.
Post-show Discussion 16 Feb.
TICKETS : 029 2064 6900.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
Review: Carole Woddis 12 January.
Heart-stoppingly moving, a production to treasure.
Frantic Assembly and writer Abi Morgan would seem to be a marriage made in heaven. Assembly is one of our most consistently dynamic and groundbreaking young theatre groups whilst Morgan with filmscripts for The Iron Lady and Shame doing the rounds has grown into the drama writer de nos jours. Morgan worked previously with Frantic Assembly ten years ago on Tiny Dynamite.
Lovesong sees both sides confronting the hardest of subjects – death and ageing – and in the case of Frantic Assembly, steadily moving away from the physicality with which they made their name. Only occasionally does physical movement replace words. What still makes them distinctive however is their nuanced approach to dovetailing words and movement.
Like Handspring and Neil Bartlett’s Or You Could Kiss Me, their subject is Love through the prism of Time. Both productions show love in its earliest blooming and at the end, all passion spent save for stoicism.
Where Handspring used puppets as the split-vision device to show time passing, Morgan and Frantic Assembly use two couples, sometimes interlacing the words of one with the entrance/exit of the other. So Margaret, the younger self of Maggie, makes entrances through a cupboard or a fridge even as Billy, her husband, now elderly, is contemplating his younger self, deeply in love with the young Margaret.
A neatly effective and quietly dramatic way of showing the advancing years, the agony of illness and death is perhaps all too predictably outlined from the beginning. But the evening is salvaged by the beauty and tenderness of Frantic’s production and the performances, especially that of Siân Phillips – never better – stoically supported by Sam Cox’s Billy.
Just when you think Lovesong is about to sag under the weight of inevitability, it turns into something larger: the continuum of life. And two outstanding moments emerge: Phillips, wincing with pain, performing a dance with William – Billy, when young – with all the youthfulness of a young woman’s body. And just before the most shocking scene of the evening, both couples merging into one climactic mix on the bed where Maggie is to take her final moments.
William: Edward Bennett.
Billy: Sam Cox.
Maggie: Siân Phillips.
Margaret: Leanne Rowe.
Direction/Choreography: Scott Graham, Steven Hoggett.
Designer: Merle Hensel.
Lighting: Andy Purves.
Sound: Carolyn Downing.
Video: Ian William Galloway.
Voice/Singing: Helen Porter.
Assistant director: Geordie Brookman.
World premiere of Lovesong was at the Drum Theatre, Plymouth on 30 September 2011. It is a joint production with Drum Theatre, Plymouth and Chichester Festival Theatre and was developed in association with the RSC Studio.