Frantic Assembly have always been great and I have always enjoyed their version of physical theatre coupled with great stories. Last year I was gleefully extolling the virtues of Beautiful Burnout, their show in collaboration with the National Theatre of Scotland about a young boxer and his life, to anyone who would listen. Pool, no water was another show that I was thoroughly wrapped in and was so excited by the element of physical theatre that they brought to the stage.
But theatrically, dramatically, emotionally I always thought there was something missing and I put this down to my lack of understanding about physical theatre as a whole. I became an ignorant observer.
Last night, as I arrived at the Lyric, Hammersmith to see Frantic's latest offering Lovesong I felt that same awkward feeling of inadequacy. But something about this show was different. The story is very simple, a story centred around a couple at two points in their life (young and old). In the young couple we see an initial state of hope as they move to America for their new life together, but as their relatonship progresses we see the toughest times as they try to concieve but fail, and as Margaret finds new love in a work colleague. But throughout all of this you are never in any doubt at the love shared between these two people. In the later version of the couple, we see a different relationship - one more 'lived in' and natural, but still they face difficult times and decisions as Margaret is revealed as suffering with an unknown condition which is obviously causing her much distress and pain. As the story of the young couple centres around life, the old couples story revolves around the theme of death and slowly we realise that Margaret intends to end her own life in order to release herself from the pain.
The older couple are particularly strong (Sam Cox and Sian Phillips) showing real depth of movement and physicality, as well as a beautiful portrayal of a couple in love. As a plethora of school children left the show I heard various cries of 'that was so depressing'.......or 'why was everyone crying?'. But what makes it so moving is how real it is. Anyone with even the slightest sense of mortality will relate to this story. And it certainly did with me. I'm not known for my over-emotional disposition and even I was crying uncontrollably throughout.
A fantastic evening at the theatre, and something more beautiful that I've seen in a long time.
Running until the 4th Feb.