An archive of arts writing by Neil Cooper.
Effete No Obstacle.
Thursday, 9 February 2012
Citizens Theatre, Glasgow 4 stars
A week before Valentine’s, and anyone who’s lost faith in the power of
everlasting true love should be sent on a blind date to playwright Abi
Morgan’s new play. A collaboration with director/choreographers Scott
Graham and Steven Hoggett’s Frantic Assembly company, as it charts four
decades of marriage between Maggie and Billy via two sets of actors, it
cuts through the hearts and flowers to get to the real-politik of a
relationship that is a mirror for some, an education for others.
Mid-life crises, affairs and seven-year itches are all intact.
Morgan’s ongoing fascination with the ageing process follows both her
recent National Theatre of Scotland play, 27, and her script about
another Maggie for the film, The Iron Lady. Yet in Frantic Assembly’s
head, hands and feet, the company’s trademark physical tics elevate her
words to somewhere else again. As back-dropped here by Merle Hensel’s
stately design, Ian William Galloway and Adam Young’s broody video
projections and especially Carolyn Downing’s sound design, here the
play’s execution feels softer and less pumped up than Frantic’s usual
fare. At times it’s almost too quiet. If the younger members of the
cast need to project more effectively, the gymnastic interplay between
the generations is exquisitely realised.
One gorgeously wordless moment captures the play’s heart, when Edward
Bennett and a magnificent Sian Phillips as the older Billy and Maggie
reach out for their younger selves, played by Sam Cox and Leanne Rowe.
Even then, it seems, there’s recognition that a time will come when
they’ll both have to let go. As the title suggests, Lovesong is a
beautifully fragile elegy that’s to die for.