Pros: Some excellent vocals plus moments of comedy that everybody can relate to.
Cons: The episodic style doesn’t give the audience time to feel anything for the characters.
How much of what we take to be love is transient euphoria? The honeymoon period in a relationship comes to an end, the poetry is over and you are hit with reality: your expectations of everlasting butterflies-in-the-tummy are a trick of modern life. What do you do? Do you stick around and allow your love to evolve into something more pragmatic – like companionship – or do you start a fresh journey in search of the next passionate experience? Are you a falling-in-love junkie, someone who has never stayed round long enough to really grow to love someone?
Lovebites, the “critically acclaimed Australian musical”, is currently playing its UK premiere at the White Bear Theatre, Kennington. Produced by TheatreTripp Productions, this sung through show of two acts follows seven couples as they fall in and out of love. With comedic moments (‘When You See Someone’s Shit’ is a particular crowd pleaser), Lovebites delivers an evening of light entertainment in a show that has the feel of a musical revue.
The cast of four play a multitude of roles and thus have a tough challenge. They remain on stage throughout, switching effortlessly from each distinguishable character, employing the help of basic props and costumes that hang about the space. Strong voices with range and well executed harmonies are on offer: Ariane Sallis is a show stopper. Sallis’ powerful voice, delightful tone and heartfelt performances are an absolute delight. There’s no big band here, just a piano played with gusto by musical director Tim Shaw.
The venue is small so there’s no room for grandeur. Verity Johnson’s set design consists of wooden blocks that are multifunctional and are danced around by the actors to create each new environment. Minimal but very effective: this is how you make the most of a small space when you are on a tight budget.
At times, the direction by Grace Taylor does not ‘play to the space’ with some performances overly demonstrative, too big. There are also some uncomfortable moments that saw performers attempting to be literal in a production that adopted a non-literal style, which for me jarred a little. Having said this, credit must go to Taylor and choreographer Charlie Burt for being inventive in lieu of space.
Lyrics (James Millar) feel a little stuck together at times which led to some predictable and toe curling couplets. The various narratives also lack depth and I did wonder if Lovebites would better connect with audiences if fewer couples were included in favour of a deeper exploration of the different stages of love. Having said this, the narratives will strike a chord with anybody who has loved (and lost). If you’ve just come out of a relationship, probably best to avoid!
Producer: Theatretripp Productions
Lyricist: James Millar
Composer: Peter Rutherford
Director: Grace Taylor
Musical Director: Tim Shaw
Choreography: Charlie Burt
Design: Verity Johnson
Lighting: Yana Demo
Stage Manager: Tom Fleming
Booking Until: 21 April 2018
Box Office: 020 7735 8664
Booking Link: https://www.whitebeartheatre.co.uk/WhatsOn/Lovebites