‘Love Love Love’ at the Royal Court

I saw Love Love Love, Mike Bartlett’s new play at the Royal Court a couple of weeks ago, but have held off writing my review of it as I was still unsure about its effect on me, other than to say it was decidedly mixed.  Having said that, it has stayed with me, so it’s worth attempting a comment.

It has an excellent cast, including Victoria Hamilton, Claire Foy, Ben Miles and Sam Troughton who create their characters with class and humour, even if they are all, to a greater or lesser extent, fairly awful.  But unsympathetic characters aren’t a reason to dislike a piece of work per se; in fact I am an advocate of including individuals with a nasty side to add a bit of grit to any dramatic story.

Spread over three acts, set in the 1960s, the 1980s and the present, we are shown the lives of a couple of baby boomers; Oxford educated, successful in their careers, comfortably off, smug and certain in their sense of entitlement, they fail their children, who are left impoverished, with little hope of improving their financial wherewithal.  The play is an attack against the generation who came before the playwright’s own, the ones now approaching a comfortable retirement, having benefited from everything that a free State education, final salary pension schemes and rampant growth in property prices could give them.

I liked the righteous indignation in the attack on the selfish mother, and the ostensibly nicer, but still self obsessed father, and I had some sympathy with the pain of their disappointed adult children; but these thoughts came later, after I’d left the theatre and was on the train going home.

While I was watching it, my over riding emotion was anxiety.  Other members of the audience were clearly enjoying the comedy of the tension being built by the constant arguing and shouting on stage, which they released in staccato bursts of laughter.  I grew increasingly tense.  I think the reason is that I simply don’t enjoy watching people argue and bicker, and there was nothing sufficiently amusing to make me laugh; I could admire the craft of it, but I couldn’t forget the artifice.

There was no doubting the popularity of the piece with the rest of the capacity audience, so this is definitely one to see to form your own opinion.

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