Written by Katherine Chandler, A Pretty Sh*tty Love is inspired by true events that shook Wales and reverberated around the world. A story about dreaming of love, living in fear and finding the strength to pull yourself out. Chandler has written an extremely detailed and honest piece which evokes all sorts of feelings, both good and not so good. It is a good mix of humour and extreme emotion.
Perfectly directed by Francesca Goodridge, we are transported from the world of new love and happiness to the dark world of jealousy, control and violence. With an interesting set made of a maze of glass walls with words written on them, designer Lulu Tam has created a world of wonder and confusion which added an extra depth to the storytelling. Lighting by Jess Bernberg was very cleverly used to aid the actors to bring out the drama and emotion of the piece.
Danielle Bird and Daniel Hawskford bring to life this one act, deeply emotional piece of theatre. Hayley (Bird) and Carl (Hawksford) are both struggling with rejection and trauma from their younger days which seems to draw them to each other. The need to feel wanted and loved is strong but this shows in different ways for the both of them. One becomes besotted the other controlling. To the point of life and death. It triggers thoughts such as are people born evil or does things life throws at them make them evil?
Bird throws everything into this role, telling the narrative as well as being the character, using every ounce of emotion and energy throughout to capture the heart and devastation of the piece. Hawksford is scarily brilliant in the role, going from shy and loving to controlling and evil with just a look. This is such strong casting and a huge credit to them to convey such a harrowing storyline with such care and conviction. Goodridge made a bold decision not to have the actors connect physically throughout the majority of the play, only coming together once or twice, adding mystery and imagination, forcing you to connect the pair together in your mind which hit on a different level for me. This is a piece of theatre I have never witnessed before and it’s something that will stay with me for a very long time.
The use of different levels and microphones and a clever video design, created by Libby Ward, added extra depth to the piece bringing the controlling behaviour to the forefront, building the drama, making the final five minutes both shocking and emotional.
A Pretty Sh*tty Love comes with many trigger warnings, and it was fantastic to see that the Domestic Abuse Safety Unit were in the foyer to support anyone who has the need to talk to someone before or after the show.
A Pretty Sh*tty love runs in the Mix at Theatr Clwyd until Saturday 23rd July 2022 with tickets available at https://www.theatrclwyd.com/event/a-pretty-shitty-love#dates-and-times
Reviewer Damian Riverol
Reviewed: 12th July 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★