19 October 2014

Lovely Love Story at the Union Theatre

I certainly had more important things to do on the Sunday afternoon but none better.

With an early start to my holiday the next day, and things to clear before doing so, there was plenty to do at home but I had enjoyed the first part of the Howard Goodall Season at the Union Theatre, the dreaming, so much that I was determined to see the second part and this was the only performance that I could get to. So I went.

The Union Theatre has the advantage for me of being a short brisk walk away from Waterloo and so I could get there and back fairly quickly to minimise the time lost to important chores. I had to make some allowance for the Sunday timetable and possible delays but in the end I got there just after 2pm. I though that was early but I was given ticket number 25 so quite a few people had tried harder then me to get one of the best seats.

I used the spare half hour wisely by supping a Becks.

The Union Theatre loads people in groups of ten so I was in the third group. I was first in of that group and that won me a front row seat in one corner of the stage. That was plenty good enough.

I know that I had not seen the film and am I pretty certain that I did not read the book either but some of the plot had seeped through to my consciousness, something to do with ice hockey,  death and love means never having to say you're sorry. That relative ignorance was bliss and I was able to sit down and let the story take me wherever it wanted to go.

Howard Goodall had taken a fairly standard approach to the music with an opening song for the whole cast that was echoed at the end and with plenty of pretty catchy tunes in the middle some of which were also repeated to help them to stick in the memory.

It worked, as it had at the dreaming, and I caught several people humming tunes at the break and at the end.

The story impressed me less. The man was rather unpleasant toward both his family and his girlfriend/wife. I was hoping that it was him who died so I was even sadder at the ending when it wasn't.

The production was neatly unobtrusive. It used props sparingly and these were sometimes swapped in one corner of the stage while the action happened in another. That helped the story to flow which it needed to do.

This was a simple love story with only two parties so the musical relied a lot on their skills and they were both good. Perhaps it was because I cared for her more but the woman, Victoria Serra, was the heart and soul of the show for me. The couple were supported by a small and very able cast that sang beautifully and acted tenderly.

Love Story was never going to be my sort of story, even less so when the wrong one of them died, but the music and the singing more than made up for the plot and I left very happy and vindicated in my decision to sacrifice a busy afternoon to see it.

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