RachelWilliams

L.O.V.E | STAGE REVIEW

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Sherman Cymru,

Tues 30 Oct

Words: Chelsey Gillard

★★★★☆

As a theatre company, Volcano prides itself on the absence of tradition and repetition, so it is a brave decision to revive their hit show, L.O.V.E. Despite its 20 years, this decadent Shakespearean ménage á trios splashed with Shirley Bassey still hits the audience square in the face with its lightning pace and daring choreography.

For 2012, L.O.V.E has adapted to the needs of modernity and to the constraint of actors: cast member Mairi Phillips complaining after the performance, “I’m just too tall”. Original performer and now director, Paul Davies, felt it essential that “the actors breathe their own brand of madness into it,” yet in essence this is the same ground-breaking show that brought together pioneers of physical theatre in the 1990s. Thanks to its heartrending passion and body-breaking physicality, it still manages to be at the forefront of 21st century theatre.

The phrase “it had me pinned to the edge of my seat” may be cliché, but the actors did exactly that as they climbed through the crowds planting fierce kisses on surprised mouths and gyrated on unsuspecting laps. When an all-too-real knife was brought on stage it felt like only a matter of time before one of the actors harmed themselves as they wrestled and writhed with each other, holding nothing back. A fear augmented by knowing that 10 years ago one of the actors severed an artery onstage!

The insanely talented ensemble delivered the sonnets with deep-seated emotion and truth. Although an unusual text to perform with such a wealth of Shakespearean plays to perform, Shakespeare’s Sonnets deliver as much drama and intrigue as you would expect of any of his other works. Depicting the tempestuous relationships between the speaker and his “lovely boy”, then his “dark lady”, the performance touches on homosexuality, infidelity and jealousy – The play’s opening line couldn’t be more fitting, “my love is as a fever.”

Having acted in Volcano’s adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, Mairi Phillips has certainly upped the ante in this performance. Not everyone would be able to handle the brutal lifts and visceral violence of this piece, let alone the sexual physicality between performers. Andrew Keay gave a full-frontal, brave and yet fragile performance as the “lovely boy”, alternately seducing and mocking his fellow stage mates. In contrast, the strong and masculine Tibu Fortes surprised the audience with a graceful agility despite a muscular frame. All three were utterly gorgeous and completely awe-inspiring.

A fitting celebration for Volcano’s 25th anniversary and a beautifully bittersweet tribute to original director/choreographer Nigel Charnock who passed away earlier this year just as the show was being cast, no review will do this production justice, there is no substitute for experiencing it yourself.

The tour continues at Volcano HQ on Swansea High Street from Fri 2-Wed 7 Nov. Info: www.volcanotheatre.co.uk

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