Melbourne Fringe 2017
John Kolvenbach’s lucid play Love Song undergoes an experimental and fresh presentation at Melbourne Fringe.
Directed by Francis Greenslade , Love Song is presented in three settings in a single room (using the entirety of the Building F at the Collingwood Arts Precinct), the audience is invited to take centre stage on rotating moveable chairs as the lighting directs their attention to where they need to be. The experience begins with the live composition (by Melbourne musician Grace Ferguson) using her theremin and a few other instruments, who captures the mood of the engrossing experience of Beane (Nicholas Denton) an oddball as he experiences love for the first time with Molly (Bonnie Moir). Beane is an exile from life who, although clearly affected and suffering from undiagnosed spectral (or other) disorder, functions in his limited way in the real world. He has his own sparsely furnished apartment which is his sanctuary. His interactions are limited to his sister Joan (Lucy Moir) and her husband Harry (Jordan Fraser-Trumble).
Joan and Harry lead busy professional lives and have limited time for each other and their domestic life. Alcohol and fast food dominate the limited time they have. Beane interjects into their space at will, usually at his own invitation. Joan is a well-meaning sister and pseudo-parent to Beane, and he always comes first in her world (as she so vigorously points out to Harry when he gets frustrated with Beane when forcing him to do pop-psychology quiz). She understands Beane and but skirts around the issue of Beane accessing professional help.
On returning to his apartment one night, Beane is confronted by intruder Molly, who has not only robbed him of his meagre possessions, but has also dressed herself in Beane’s only spare set of clothes. It’s a devastating moment for Beane to have his perfectly crafted space violated in this way. But the experience, once she leaves, has moved something deeply within him.
The giddy Beane breaks his usual routine as he meets Joan at an outdoor café as he shares with her the news of his falling in love with the daring and enigmatic Molly. Beane’s behaviour is so out of sorts that it causes Joan to berate him in ways that surprise her. It’s a beautiful and tender exchange between them.
The play explores the inevitability of the status quo never lasting long. People grow and their circumstances change. Joan has a husband and job she thrives in. Molly has activated things within Beane that excite him and he can never be the same again. In a come what may manner, Joan recognises her desire for him to be happy. Her need to protect him in her way is ever present.
Love Song is a play that explores how people shut out the strange and normalise themselves with common surroundings to avoid harsh truths. The cast is terrific and the performances slick. The set design and the set on three stages keeps the audience interested and engaged. Beane is almost always in side profile which is quite disconcerting and eerie and Denton portrays this misfit hauntingly and beautifully.