Talisman
THEATRE & ARTS CENTRE

Review by Peter McGarry


Peter McGarry is an experienced, independent professional theatre critic who has agreed to review Talisman Theatre productions.
Peter is free to express his opinions for good or ill. The Talisman Theatre has no control whatsoever over the content of these reviews and will not comment publicly on what he writes.

Lovesong (2014):
This is an extraordinarily potent piece of theatre. It reflects life, love and human relationships with a scorching intensity.

Any company taking on the challenge is either brave or foolhardy. The play does not allow for half measures in acting or direction if it is to keep an audience firmly in its grip.

Sarah Campbell's production is, quite simply, spell-binding. She develops its emotional evolution with insight and intelligence, fearlessly allowing it to find its own natural mood and pace and fully utilising writer Abi Morgan's brilliant interplay of characters.

The concept of presenting younger and older versions of the same married couple might not be new but in this case the careful analysis of the ties that bind them breaks new ground, cleverly exploring how roles can almost reverse over a period of 40-plus years.

Joshua Pink and Alice Scott incisively reveal how the initial glow of newly-wed bliss can gradually diminish over time under the pressures of mood swings, mental complexities and lack of parenthood. "We have each other and that's enough," she exclaims. But we detect a note of despair in the words.

John Dawson and Ann Richards show the acquired wisdom and heartache of the older couple and how they have had to come to terms with unfulfilled dreams. From the edgy restlessness of his younger self, he has withdrawn into a protective shell, only to re-emerge in an agonised outburst which gives the play one of its most telling - and superbly acted - scenes.

All four give fine performances, reflecting a high level of teamwork and commitment. The dominant themes of silent frustration and the relentless march of time are realised with both strength and sensitivity, and back-projected video clips are tastefully inserted to underscore certain key moments. Richard Poynter's unfussy set design ideally serves to house the drama without being intrusive.

The American location of the piece hardly figures here, with the exception of one brief play on accent which, as a result, seems unnecessary and curiously out of place.

It's a minor quibble, however, when this main-house directorial debut by Sarah Campbell can be so classed a triumph.

 


      

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