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WILL AND ME: Love is my Sin (2013) Review

Updated on July 22, 2017
The show's original poster featuring Jenny Lovell and Geoff Wallis.
The show's original poster featuring Jenny Lovell and Geoff Wallis. | Source

WILL AND ME: LOVE IS MY SIN REVIEW (2013)

(A theatre review written back in May 2013, about a performance of the one-act play Love Is My Sin, staged at The La Mama Theatre in Melbourne, Australia.)

In the mid-1500s, the city of London suffered from another outbreak of the plague, killing millions of people who dared to rub elbows with one another in public places like taverns or abbeys. In order to reduce the spreading of the disease, the authorities had various businesses across the city closed down, including the many theatres that the city had to offer, from The Rose to The Globe. Without a theatre to write for, playwright William Shakespeare decided to spend his free time back in his home town of Stratford-upon-Avon writing a collection of love poems (better known as “sonnets”) ranging from various themes like acceptance, separation, romantic bliss, and jealousy….themes that usually appeared in his own plays! Despite the familiar moral and psychological situations that one would see in plays like As You Like It or Romeo and Juliet, the idea of these 14 line verses forming the basis for a stage play was something no one ever thought of worth attempting….until now!

Written/adapted by legendary West End director, Peter Brook, Love is My Sin tells the very simple Beckett-esqe story of two unnamed characters (one a male played by the vocally pleasant Geoff Wallis; the other a female played by former Prisoner star Jenny Lovell) who sit in an anonymous area (assumingly a household kitchen or a private room of a local library) and discuss the philosophy of romance and its sorrowful downfalls, with a selection of Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets forming the (absurdist) dialogue between the two.

With stage directions by Australian theatre veteran, Kate Herbert, and staged within the welcoming and intimate space of the influential La Mama Theatre in the Melbourne suburb Carlton, the play (based upon an original production staged by Brook himself in Paris, 2007) is truly different than most plays being staged across Melbourne this year. Though the piece is plot-less, the emotions that the play conjures up within one’s self is phenomenal! With the help of the performers, the show instantly gets any soul thinking about their own idea of love and question if they had made the right choice in partner or not.

As well as the performers, the design of the set also owes a lot to how the emotion of the audience begins to soar: The appearance of the stage (created by Manda Webber and Sam Hopkins) is an open area with white coloured walls and Shakespearean quotations cleverly stuck up all over the place. The set design is pleasing to the eye and makes the entire play itself inviting. Just one look at the staging and you feel as if you have just been invited to have a few cups of tea at a friend’s house in one of the most inspiring and visually stunning suburbs one could ever walk about in. The whole look of the show is quite an intimate and very homely affair.

To accompany the acting of Lovell and Wallis, Shakespeare-Brook’s text, and Herbert’s direction, a range of classical music (featuring a collection of pieces composed by Bach and Sonta) is played to simulate the changing of a scene or enhance the mood of each argument, each joke or/and each tearful moment. (The show’s incidental soundtrack in a way.) And this is where the play hits it less positive phase:

Though the music is so beautiful in many respects, the musician performing the pieces (a rather anxious cellist named Helen Barclay) often displays a sign of incompetence by stumbling on her chords and constantly allowing the music to play for too long. Her efforts in the show puts me in mind of Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert in Les Miserables: Though she does try her best and puts a lot of effort into her work (making some sections enjoyable to hear), you come out of the theatre feeling that her performance will be overshadowed by more talented musicians in future productions of this play (if they ever do a revival of the work….in which they should!)

Nonetheless, the play is a must see! It gets you thinking and if you are a fan of Waiting for Godot or (sticking with the Shakespeare theme) Rosencrantz and Guilderstien Are Dead, then this play will be right up your alley. If you like plays that are in an absurdist form and with direction that allows you to see the story how you want it to be, then go and see this right away! When you have the time, or if you’re a tourist travelling through Melbourne, Australia for your vacation, run straight down to La Mama and book yourself your ticket to see this show.

A scene from the play. From left to right: Helen Barclay, Lovell and Willis
A scene from the play. From left to right: Helen Barclay, Lovell and Willis | Source

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