Having first discovered the work of Mike Barlett while absent mindedly tuning into Cock on BBC Radio 4; I instantly became a fan of the interesting twists he adds to the domestic situation. This is the same tactic he applies to Love Love Love as he explores a relationship from its origin in the swinging 60’s right up to modern day.
Kenneth (an excellent Miles) is a nineteen year old growing up in the 60’s. He has dreams of revolutions and being on the cusp of a new era when he meets Sandra (a just as brilliant Hamilton) – an equally free spirit who is the girlfriend of his altogether more conservative brother Henry (Troughton). The two of them hit it off and despite the moral implications soon start a relationship. We then jump forward to the early 1990’s where the couple have a pair of teenage children; outspoken and intelligent Rosie (Foy) and immature but sensitive Jamie (Troughton). They encourage their kids to live a free a life as possible and not be tied down by the trappings of a 9-5pm, relationships or a mortgage. Fast forward to 2012 where Rosie is 37 and living in a rented flat with a mountain of debt while her parents enjoy retirement and live off the spoils of their multiple investments. Have they really helped their daughter by encouraging her to the live the limitless life they once dreamed off?
Love Love Love does takes a while to get going and with a running time of nearly 2 hours and 45 mins, I can’t help but think some of the initially dialogue may have been cut. The play shines best the after the 1st interval (that’s right – there are two intervals!) when the consequences of having a free spirited marriage begin to take its toll on not just Sandra and Kenneth but also their children. While Bartlett’s trademark dialogue is evident throughout I felt the play lacked the engagement of his previous work and despite liking parts I was somewhat disappointed by the piece overall.
The performances from the exceptional cast is the main attraction with this play, in particular Victoria Hamilton and Ben Miles who age from 19 right up to 62. At each age they are faultlessly convincing and I marvel at their ability to play characters with such a vast range in age. Love Love Love has some enjoyable parts and the concept of exploring a relationship over a 40 year period is interesting. However it didn’t leave me as affect or impressed as Bartlett’s previous work.
Love Love Love at Royal Court Theatre, By Mike Barlett
Directed by James Grieve
Cast: Ben Miles, Victoria Hamilton, Claire Foy, George Rainsford and Sam Troughton
3 Stars Reviewed By Karla Williams
Love Love Love is playing at Royal Court Theatre until June 9th 20102. To book tickets please visit www.royalcourttheatre.com