The one that uses a Beatles song to reunite two characters?
Love, Love, Love is the latest play by Mike Bartlett and is currently resident at The Royal Court, as we know the theatre has a great success rate in transferring into the West End and Broadway after a run in its Sloane Square abode. I suspect this new domestic drama from Bartlett will too see life after the run in Chelsea backed by the wealth of four and five star reviews it has been littered with.
Taking place in three concised acts each act presents a key era of the life of a pair, the result of the baby boom. Ben Miles as Kenneth & Victoria Hamilton as Sandra present their characters in act one as young 19 year olds in London before act two shows us them as a family unit in the 1990s before act three shows a reconciliation of divorce and the pair are reunited in 2011 in their retired 60s.
This piece works and enthrals so much as the audience can easily relate to the production in many ways. Throughout the acts there are many quips that lend themselves to the audience of London, Sandra proclaims in the bedsit of act one “Families are boring – that’s why London was invented, so you could move away” a gesture that sends the audience into a fit of laughter.
Miles and Hamilton work effortlessly together to show all aspects of the relationship. At first we learn of the free spirited, revolutionary aspirations of two, studying in Oxford but fully aware that they are the future of the country, they are the change. Indulging in a drug culture, because times are different, Sandra who visits to continue a date with Kenneth’s brother Henry, by Sam Troughton, only to be enticed by the same ideals of Kenneth, who displays the changing ideas of society and in music.
Act two repeats the opening of act one essentially as a younger being, their son, played by George Rainsford “rocks out” to the next generation of music – history repeating. An unrecognisable Miles enters with their daughter, Claire Foy, and a slice of family life is portrayed along with all the strains of life that come with it. Heightened representations of the “I hate you” teenager as documented countless times thanks to Harry Enfield and his creation of Kevin, and the transformation of Kenneth and Sandra as the wild childs of the 60s, now seen as well to do parents working long hours in city jobs. Sandra proclaims “Something’s gone wrong – we live in Reading” again to the rapturous laughter of an audience that can understand how things change.
The revelation of Divorce is all too familiar of the nineties and we are left with the somewhat covered storyline of the teenage girl, recently dumped, running away to the bathroom and slitting her wrists.
Act three and the bringing together of Kenneth and Sandra is spurred on by a meeting organised by their daughter Rosie who is now 37. Thirty Seven and still renting. Upon demanding “buy me a house” her justification for this is that the generation of the baby boomers, didn’t enjoy the country, they bought it and were now sitting on all the money and all the property with now possible progression for the next generation.
Design by Lucy Osborne perfectly and dramatically reinvents the space to adopt to the time period and grows with the characters as the set transforms in its entirety upon the curtain rising at each act.
The acting throughout the production is incredibly well presented with all actors tackling issues with the genuine reality that draws the audience allowing them to be sympathetic to the scenario presented before them. What is difficult as a younger member of the audience is, sat amongst an older audience, those who match Kenneth and Sandra, is that whilst the majority laughed loudly as the very notion of Rosie demanding a house, I recoiled in fear of myself being in the situation come 37, I’d certainly hoped in my own life plan, that by 37 I would certainly be in a more financially stable environment… perhaps Ill end up in Reading after all.
As much as the production promotes healthy discuss as the battle of the generations I would be more than inclined to view this production again with a different audience, and it would be truly fascinating to gage the opinion of what this piece is saying, and how different people interpret the performance, based on their own understanding of how they fit into society.