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Love, Love, Love

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
3 stars
Something shocking occurs at the end of the second act of Mike
Bartlett's dissection of the baby boomer generation across four decades
that completely upends everything that's gone before. Bartlett's story
of Kenneth and Sandra starts off as a saucy sit-com take on the 1960s
when the pair fall together on the night The Beatles premiere All You
Need Is Love on live TV. By 1990, a Mike Leigh style manic streak has
infected their middle-aged selves as they fight encroaching suburban
torpor, with their own teenage children caught in the not so
progressive crossfire.

By the third act, set today, such a drastic lurch in tone leaves one
increasingly horrified by the now estranged couple's ongoing
selfishness borne of some feckless philosophy of action without
consequence. If the sit-com analogy still stands, it's like My Family
gone very very wrong. In this respect, Bartlett might just have written
the first state of the nation play for David Cameron's Britain, in
which the accusations of a generation themselves on the verge of
middle-age are barely noticed by the oldest swingers in town.

James Grieves' production for Paines Plough and the Drum Theatre
Plymouth has great fun with Bartlett's knowing nods to theatrical
archetypes, from the initial clash between Kenneth's Pinteresque
brother and Sandra's cut-glass Terence Rattigan runaway onwards, even
if all the cast are permanently out of time with the parts they're
playing. Yet, for all the play's pertinence, by skipping the strung-out
seventies and the sheer destructiveness of the Thatcherite eighties,
we're never quite shown the full picture of what went wrong, and how
all that idealism turned to disappointment.

The Herald, May 13th 2011

ends

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