Love story at the Duchess Theatre, Covent garden a story well known and loved about two students who fall madly in love and marry , disregarding their parents views and defying social expectation- which eventually ends in tragedy-miraculously seemed to be devoid of love and of a story after a botched adaptation by Stephen Clark .
I was thoroughly looking forward to this adaption of Erich Segals 'Love story' , and yet instead of the sickly sweet emotions experienced each time I watch the film - I was instead left with a rather bitter taste in my mouth.
As always at the beginning of a performance I take note of the set- in this case it was a very vacuous (mirroring the atmosphere created by the performers) white space inclusive of the Orchestra on stage visible to the audience. Which from my extensive A-level and University training I recognised to be quite Brechtian , 'rejection of historic realism'- ie we are aware we are witnessing a play as the technical elements of the performance are seen . Perhaps director Rachel Kavanaugh wanted to remind us that it was all only a play to save us from such a disastrous performance. It may be that I am being too critical as my sister along with the sniffling middle aged man next to me were left in floods of tears in the finale.
However I found myself unmoved by the whole thing- although I must admit some of the pointless songs composed by Howard Goodall did remain with me for the rest of the evening- such as the rather confusing song in the middle of the play describing pasta dishes.
I believe the talents of the actors were lost within the writing and adaptation of the beloved tale by Stephen Clark. It was obvious to see that the majority of the actors possessed talent - in particular female protagonist Emma Williams ( Jenny Cavilleri) , whose ballsy and upbeat interpretation of the character (originally played by Ally MacGraw in the film ) almost bought an emotional touch to the performance, but unfortunately her efforts were overshadowed by a clumsy attempt at jock come 'preppy' intellectual Oliver Barret the 6th played by Michael Xavier. His desperate attempt created a nervous atmosphere and his love for Williams was far from believable, the creation of their relationship was rushed and appeared to be detached.
I was hoping that the play was going to improve in the second half, only to find that the play was ending and the cast were preparing to take their final bows. Although previously hopeful that the performance would reach a crescendo after the interval I was actually relieved that it was all over- as I was beginning to fall asleep on to the person next to me, and had become one of the dreaded sweet rustlers out of sheer boredom.
So ..a disappointment but an experience all the same -a warning to all of those who have rushed to the box office to buy tickets, it is far from the success that the film version was.