Aspects of Love at Southwark Playhouse
Celebrating it’s 30th birthday, Aspects of Love by Don Black, Charles Hart and Andrew Lloyd Webber is a complex carnival of lust, jealousy and how love makes fools of everyone. Opening with mega-hit Love Changes Everything (which in 1989 launched the career of Michael Ball), the musical’s landscape of a tangled emotional web is set.
The story begins in 1947 with an impetuous romance between struggling French actress Rose Vibert and her English teenage super-fan Alex. Their sweet duet hits a sour note when his uncle arrives, and the chemistry between capricious Rose and charismatic artist George creates a love triangle – actually, in this case, a love square as George’s current sweetheart, free-spirited Italian sculptress Giulietta, is also in the mix. These mutual passions unfold throughout Act One.
Act Two is much darker, set in the early 1960s when Rose is the toast of Paris, married to George, still close to Giulietta and mother to the apple of her husband’s eye, their young daughter Jenny. The 15-year-old Jenny meets Rose’s former lover and as the years roll by, like mother, like daughter, she falls hopelessly for him. With Alex struggling with his growing desire for the last girl he should want, the actress still torn by her love for both men and George and Alex’s obsession and rivalry, these aspects of love are at times pretty unpalatable.
Adapting this saga from the 1955 novella by Bloomsbury Group member David Garnett (who actually married the daughter of his former love Duncan Grant, well they do say write about what you know) certainly gave memorable musical meat to these thin bohemian bones, with hits such as The First Man You Remember, Hand Me the Wine and the Dice and Anything But Lonely.
Jonathan O’Boyle’s revival is bold and intimate, with inspiring use of props, dance and lighting. The two pianos and percussion handle the vast score well, while the cast in this ambitious production are talented and stay faithful to the original characters. Drama queen Rose is played with flair by Kelly Price, Felix Mosse’s portrayal of soldier Alex is engaging, while Jerome Pradon is deeply powerful as George, especially in scenes with Eleanor Walsh’s disarming Jenny, and Madalena Alberto makes lovelorn creative Giulietta both elegant and exciting.
Sadly, as every person in Aspects of Love is so wild and wanton, living for the moment, and superficial, none of them are very likeable. So whilst the lyrics are wonderful, the audience’s empathy for these frustrating characters drains quickly as their need for self-gratification and other pleasures keep playing on.
Photos: Pamela Raith
Aspects of Love is at Southwark Playhouse from 7th January until 9th February 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.