Physical theatre company Frantic Assembly are back in London, this time collaborating with much-in-demand writer Abi Morgan to create an exquisite love story about a very ordinary couple.
I could try to blame it on the fact I have a cold or that I’m over-tired but they would just be excuses; last night’s sobbing was all down to Lovesong, a tear-jerker which will have grown men reduced to a blubbing mess after the first half an hour.
Lovesong’s hook is that the audience is invited to witness the early and late days of one relationship on one stage. We meet the couple as young newly-weds, struggling with money and responsibilities but entranced by the idea of spending their lives together. As they exit the stage, their older selves appear, still wrapped up in one another but preparing for one half to disappear and end their partnership.
Sometimes the two pairs cross each others’ path, other times a wardrobe acts as a time machine as a young woman enters only to return grey-haired. But as with any Frantic Assembly show, every movement is mindful and has purpose; a bite of a peach comes loaded with meaning and a stumbling dance with a pair of shoes is heart-breakingly poignant.
Morgan’s writing is simple and moving, portraying the couple at both ends of the spectrum with almost painful realism. Unresolved dreams, discretions and day-to-day grumbles are all shown. It is a life lived ordinarily, but given an edge of magic by the company’s otherworldly staging.
Video projections and a stirring score heighten emotions, while the actors’ frequent balletic pauses are delicate but powerful. Most powerful of all however is when young meet old in dreams in the depth of the night and they dance together, their rhythms and support adapting to the other’s frailty or strength.
Morgan’s genius was to make the couple flawed. The relationship isn’t perfect, they don’t live a particularly special life, but it is a real partnership told imaginatively from start to the inevitable end.