Romance Romance at Above the Stag
Heartfelt lyrics, suave performances and a prevailing recital of love charm us in this same-sex adaption of classic Broadway musical Romance Romance.
Directed by Steven Dexter with Aaron Clingham in charge of the music, the production is a two-part piece connected by love and an adjoining song performed in both stories. The first, The Little Comedy, set in late 19th century Vienna and based on the short story by Arthur Schnitzler, observes the budding relationship between Alfred (Blair Robertson) and Valentin (Jordan Lee Davies). The second, Summer Share, adapted from the Jules Renard play Le Pain de Ménage, moves us forward to the present day and the complicated interactions between two married couples – Leonard (Blair Robertson) and his partner Luca (Ryan Anderson), accompanied by Benjamin (Jordan Lee Davies) and Lars (Alex Lodge) – as they holiday away together in the Hamptons for a long weekend.
The complex relationship of Alfred and Valentin is as amusing as it is romantic. Capturing the gilt-edged affluence of the former character, Robertson is tall, distinguished and easy in this role, whilst elfin-featured Davies is perfect as the softer, yet more flamboyant of the two. Both with previous failed romantic pasts and wealthy backgrounds, they respectively denounce their riches and mischievously reinvent themselves as a butcher’s apprentice and struggling poet. These hidden identities are captured by their supporting “housekeeping” duo, Jeremy (Anderson) and Sam (Lodge) who dance along to a sprinkling of musical numbers with elaborate Venetian masks.
There’s a particularly captivating solo by Davies of Goodbye Emil and a harmonious duet alongside Robertson called, Yes, It’s Love which really lay down the more tender notions of romance in this play – something that hasn’t always been associated with male same-sex pairings.
A reprisal of It’s Not Too Late brings the two acts together, as does the duplicity of cast members who adapt well to the huge leap in time. A modernisation of gay representation, with marriage and children, directs the narrative. When two of the partners start questioning their fidelity and we see an illicit affair brewing between them, the ghostly spectres of their respective partners start appearing on stage. We wait with bated breath as their plans to elope become scuppered when remembered vows bring them to their senses. A resounding chorus of cheers in the auditorium means we invest in their monogamy, and ultimately want to enjoy a tale of everlasting romance.
The cast synchronise superbly together, showcasing vocal talent as well as acting ability, however, a slight repetition in the melodies of the songs could have been developed more imaginatively, which would have contributed to this pioneering adaption of the play.
Photo: PBG Studios
Romance Romance is at Above the Stag from 12th March until 6th April 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.