Thursday, May 30

Love Talk – New Wimbledon Theatre Studio

How would it feel to see a very toxic relationship described as love? How would it look like to see the representation of a separation letter gone wrong?

In this production of Love Talk, written and directed by Emma Gueye, the audience is presented with the characters of Lauren, played by Megan Cooper, Adam, played by Will Charlton, and Ethan, by Chris Austin. The set and costume design are minimal and have little to no interest in the performance, but that will come back later.

When the audience enters the theatre, there seems to be a party going on, with between 6 to 10 people having fun, talking, and laughing on stage. This is a very promising start that is, however, deceptive. The rest of the play will be surprisingly static, not only from a corporeal point of view, but from the point of view of actions that don’t culminate. There is something sadistic in this, and we will have to see these characters hurt each other the whole play, without having a clear reason of why we should care.

But, little by little. The bodies: the amount of time the characters spend sitting in a completely locked and inexpressive position must be some kind of record. At some point, it seemed like the two main characters were only two moving heads, while both their bodies held their legs crossed, their arms pulled close to the torsos, and drinks in one hand. The actions: the actors jump from the causes to the consequences without a clear path of why things happen. This translates in outbursts and lashing out with no real reason. It appeared as if the action was more shown than played. These issues made it hard for this reviewer to empathize and care for what the characters were going through. Of course, everyone connects on a different level, but at some point, it was curious to see how much of a villain could she become, and how much of a beggar could he become.

On this, the appearance of Ethan is unapologetically definitive: he is the worse, and it’s shown to the audience how he manipulates and lies to achieve his goals. It is interesting to see how these characters seem to be calm, but the lack of chemistry between them is noticeable.

On the other hand, the very symmetric and static set is also an interesting choice that didn’t really connect in the level that one would expect. The awkward silence and the (almost) unchanging wardrobe also appeared confusing in this play that extends its existence with several very important topics that are merely touched upon, while navigating between meaningless jokes and puns that land with more or less success. Not to say it’s a terrible piece of work, the play doesn’t really seem to take responsibility in how it deals with said topics, overwhelming us with many of the most important themes of the history of theatre (love, deception, truth, family, death, children, disease, failure, amongst others) without really dealing with any one of them seriously. Like a salad with too many ingredients.

A good play to see with a friend, and discuss about theatre and love, the text and mise en scéne fight each other, and there really isn’t a definitive winner.

Playing until 29th April 2023,

Reviewer: Gonzalo Sentana

Reviewed: 27th April 2023

North West End UK Rating: ★★★