I love the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith: aside from the fact that it is a just a bus ride from home, Hammersmith is a nostalgic place for me, just round the corner from the school where I spent seven years. The theatre itself has a lovely auditorium, much like a small West End venue. The Lyric is a lively environment to experience and the press evenings here are always fun with music jamming, friendly mingling and fresh hot pizza handed round, it’s a blast.
This month the Lyric welcomes Abi Morgan’s touching love story, ‘Lovesong’, a production by FRANTIC ASSEMBLY, an exciting contemporary physical theatre company I have wanted to see in action for a while. The play spans forty years: the marriage of Maggie and Billy, the aging process they endure and how their love changes over time. We watch the youthful couple William (Edward Bennett) and Margaret (Leanne Rowe) in their 20s excitedly embarking on a life together, and also their older selves Maggie (Sian Phillips) and Billy (Sam Cox) as they remember and reminiscence. The action is delicately and completely intertwined, flicking between the two eras constantly… Maggie opens the wardrobe and Margaret slips out instead. I found the older couple more convincing; Sam Cox gives a sensitive rendition of the helpless husband while Sian Phillips is heartbreaking as the dying wife.
The script is very fluid but can be disorientating – at times I wished for more detail, especially regarding Maggie’s dehabilitating illness. However this is where the dance and clever choreography works so well, as the physicality effectively captures the passing of time: beautifully lyrical and transient movement that each of the four actors handled impressively. The play is accompanied by Carolyn Downing’s powerful soundtrack, it supports the script if a little vague and abstract at times.
Lovesong manages to grip the audience for the full ninety minutes, and the day I went, the theatre remained eerily silent throughout, everyone seemed captivated by the truthful love affair.
You would have to be pretty cold-hearted to leave the theatre feeling completely untouched, I was certainly worried about my mascara smudging.
Lovesong continues at The Lyric until 4 February, book here.