The Verb, “To Love” at the Old Red Lion
Love is easily the most common theme in the world of art. For centuries it has inspired writers, painters and musicians to celebrate it, lament it or immortalise it. The momentum for a plethora of plays, the motif of hundreds of well-written murders, it is so inherently human that it is near impossible to imagine life without some of our greatest love stories.
The Verb, “To Love” is not one of those stories. It does not present the all-consuming, destroying love that pushes people to act in ways as dramatic as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Instead, this piece of theatre is a lot simpler – it is about a love typical to everyone, everywhere. This straightforward approach is how the play wins big: it contains a very normal love story that easily connects with the audience, reminding them that normal does not mean unworthy for stage performance.
The story centres on Simon who has recently split from his long-term partner, James. Happily, he meets Ben – 17 years his junior, gorgeous and blue-eyed. Together, they embark on a steady romance but soon abandon any precautions: they are simply crazy for each other. At this point, their relationship unravels with all its highs and lows, romantic gestures and heated fights. Both men experience a love that leaves its mark and slowly changes them.
The Verb, “To Love” is a delightful musical, mostly performed by one man, Martin Neely, and beautifully sung throughout. In the role of Simon, he tells the story with such emotion and humour that he immediately wins the viewer over. There is something very truthful and humane about his performance, which makes his character incredibly easy to relate to. Gareth Bretherton is marvellous as Ben, despite spending the duration behind the piano.
Although the production centres around gay characters, it never focuses explicitly on that fact. Simon and Ben are so relatable that they blur the lines of sexuality and tell a story that could be anyone’s. Put simply, the astonishing realism and engaging performances are what make the play great.
The Verb, “To Love” is on at The Old Red Lion Theatre until 23rd May 2015, for further information or to book visit here.