Love in the Title | Hugh Leonard | New Theatre
Star Rating: 2/5
Love in the Title | By Hugh Leonard | The New Theatre
Directed by David Ferguson
For Room to Move Theatre Company
Starring: Melissa Nolan, Tanya Wilson, April Bracken
When taking on a play as dense as Hugh Leonard's Love in the Title one must not only show what type of people the characters are, but why they are those type of people. It's all there in the text. The actors, under the guidance of their director, need to excavate the individual pieces and present a whole picture. Where Room to Move have erred in this awkward mounting of this later Leonard drama is in handing down judgements to the audience, who adjust their mind sets accordingly, interfering with the subtleties within the script and eventually tuning out the toneless exchanges.
Three generations of women from the one family, each from different eras and age groups, have gathered by a rock of historic and mythical importance. Why they are there is never explained but Leonard uses them to trace the role of women at different points in Ireland's social development and to look at how each one soils and shapes the expectations (and disappointments) of the next.
There's Katie (Nolan) a writer in her late 30s, living in the present day. Childless, manless (or possibly manful) she's embittered by her parents loveless marriage. She may have come to Corcamore to make sense of her life, evoking thoughts of her granny Cat (Bracken), a 20 year old orphan from 1932 bursting with the promise of a life yet to be lived; and her mother Triona (Wilson), a 30-year old from 1964 let down by her lot and frightened by a world in violent motion.
All three must strive to keep up appearances but the friction of the sands of time needs to wear them down so that their natural curiosity gets the better of them and a flow of information springs forth. What happens instead is a series of hard exchanges between the elder mother and daughter broken only by an overreaching Bracken, who pushes her character's Joie de vivre to such excesses she misses, completely, the battered soul it covers unless explicitly stated by the text to play 'upset'.
There is no sense of the familial connection to bond them and the aggrivation, the distaste and at times disgust they feel towards one another is too prominent, too often. The women regularly lapse into silence as another speaks, never reacting amongst themselves to what's being said, which becomes theatrically staid, loses the richness of Leonard's point and his comedy and forces a remove between the world and the audience.
There is no sense of journey or build in the pacing of the piece and no clear sense at its end as to what we - or the women, were supposed to have learned from the experience. Leonard's words were spoken but his meaning shrouded by a production that condemed its characters from the outset to stock representations rather than understanding.
Love in the Title runs until June 2nd.
Review by: Caomhan Keane
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Wednesday 23rd May 2012 | Theatre
Dont know if you went to the same show. I really enjoyed it!Posted 15:54 | Wed 23rd May 2012
I would disagree with the above, this piece is actually quite rewarding, especially how well the troop drip information at a slow and steady pace to the audience, enough to tantalize, but not sufficient to gorge. The acting is filled with blatant passion and neck hair raised on more than one occasion as emotions flared across the stage. I would happily recommend this show and follow the team onto their next productionPosted 16:45 | Wed 23rd May 2012
I will come clean and admit that April Bracken is my sister. While I admit this affects my personal review of the play, it doesn't stop me forming a measured critique of it. Firstly, this review has no name on it while the others on the site do, surely the reviewer must stand by their writing enough to put their name to it? On April I will say there is a contradiction in the review, stating she plays a young woman "bursting with the promise of a life yet to be lived" but then "who pushes her character's Joie de vivre to such excesses she misses, completly [sic], the battered soul it covers unless explicitly stated by the text to play 'upset'." My take on the play is that the joie de vivre is actually supposed to cover up this battered soul, whose orphan past only comes out half-way through the play. When it does happen there is a change, portrayed effectively, within the character. However, though battered, she never completely looses that joie, which seemed to me to be the point of the text. I also recommend the convincing severity of Wilson as Triona and the subtle but emotive performance of Nolan as Katie (who is described as 'manful' here with no reason as to why). The natural bitterness of Katie and Triona who know more about what happens to the family than Cat, and hence whose relationship is more charged than the normal mother-daughter relationship, is broken up by instances of tenderness and humour between the three women. They lapse into silence to let one another speak but they always remain engaged and reactive to what is said by the others. The journey is that of discovering how each of the women (who we become invested in throughout the play) end up and what we learn about is how the fraught relationship between mothers and daughters - and generations - develops. Overall the three actors convincingly portray the messiness of family and the bitterness that builds over the years, but that is still always underpinned by love. I brought seven friends along and they all genuinely enjoyed it.Posted 09:55 | Thu 24th May 2012
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