Thursday, 9 February 2012

Lovesong

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.

The Herald, February 9th 2012

ends

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