Based on Erich Segal’s famous novel and directed by Joseph C. Walsh, the musical adaptation of Love Story is a tragic tale of love. What lengths would you go to for the one you love and how do you react when someone you love hurts you?
Oliver and Jenny meet in a library. They are from different worlds: he, a rich ‘jock’ * at Harvard and she, a poor music student at Radcliffe. It seems a hopeless situation, yet they fall in love and marry young, despite objections from their families. Each makes sacrifices because their love is all that matters, but is it strong enough to prepare them for the tragedy that awaits…
The performance opens with a funeral, the small cast gathered together to remember Jenny (Caroline Keating). The song ‘What Can You Say?’ is touching, yet gives us an insight into who this girl was – blunt, down-to-earth and beloved – “the only girl who thought that scales were cool.”
Keating shows us that she is not only a strong singer and actress, but also a talented pianist. In fact, it’s quite staggering to see several of the cast take their turn at the keyboard (which is disguised as a grand piano).
In fact Darren Beaumont’s piano design is a work of genius, as it comes apart and is used for various pieces of furniture, including beds and tables. Costumes are a clever combination of simple outfits, with slight alterations between scenes.
Although Jonny Muir doesn’t quite suit the role of Oliver, he almost manages to convince us that he is a ‘preppy jock’*. His singing is stronger than his acting, but he contrasts nicely with Keating to create a believable romance.
The ensemble do seem slightly unnecessary at times (particularly the ghost of Jenny’s mother) but they make what they can of their time on stage and prevent the performance from being too intense.
My own memories of the film are mostly of the iconic theme composed by Francis Lai and this piece of music has been cleverly woven into The Recital, a poignant piece Jenny plays near the beginning of the performance and just before her death.
Other songs (by Stephen Clark and Howard Goodall) include a few haunting melodies and the faster Pasta (listing the various types of pasta), which lightens the mood. Choosing to run the piece with no interval also helps to keep the audience focused on the performance and immersed in the story.
Unlike many musical adaptations of films, Love Story succeeds because it is a beautifully crafted production with a strong cast and thought provoking songs. Although my eyes remain dry, it really is quite charming and, dare in say it, a lot better than the film!
Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes
*Preppy: A pupil or graduate of an expensive prep school, especially with reference to their smart style of dress.
* Jock: A school or college athlete. Often used to imply that the person is not academic and got into college on athletic ability alone.
By Erich Segal
Book and lyrics by Stephen Clark
Music and additional Lyrics by Howard Goodall
Presented by Language Laid Bare, Directed by Joseph C Walsh
Presented by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Ltd.
The Jack Studio Theatre
410 Brockley Road, London, SE4 2DH
The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre
Wednesday 23 October to Saturday 16 November 2013
Performances Tuesday – Saturday at 7.45pm
Matinee Saturday 16 November at 3pm