Edinburgh Fringe 2013
Cora and Bill were married in 1956 and still remember the smell of the old Citroën that Bill proposed in. Kate bought a house with her fiancé only to split up a few months later but still has expectations for Valentine’s Day; Myles found himself dangling from a rooftop in pursuit of love; and Imke is still waiting. Created from interviews, this heart-warming play interlinks the personal love stories that unite us all.
A co-production between verbatim theatre experts Look Left Look Right and Every Day, The Love Project is the culmination of a series of interviews done with a wide cross section of people, asking their views, experiences and opinions of love. Every word said onstage had been spoken by the interviewees – down to the phrasing, intonation and pauses. The skill of the theatre therefore comes in the editing of the script, and the ability of the actors.
The Love Project introduces us to an old couple, married for almost 50 years, she speaks, he grunts and agrees, as we hear tales of their courtship. We also see a young couple in their 30s, just married, bantering and sharing stories about how they met which compare and contrast nicely with those of the older generation. As well as longer sections that explore characters in more detail there are also snippets of conversations, where a Muslim man gives his opinions on love and marriage, and we also see squirming children’s perspectives on playground dating politics.
Overall the effect of the show is nice; it is very well performed by talented actors, and it is gently amusing and sweet. My only real problem is what the point of it is. Yes it is interesting to hear people’s perspectives and experiences of love, but nothing that is shared in the Love Project is particularly revelatory or new. Most interesting in the piece were the comments that came from people of different cultures and different generations, and I think the show would have benefited if more had been made of this, or if it had become the focus.
I very much enjoy verbatim theatre, and think it has a great value in terms of dramatising the stories of people whose voices aren’t heard, or bringing unknown experiences to the public in people’s own words. This really worked in Look Left Look Right’s Caravan show, where we heard stories from people who had been seriously affected by bad floods in Britain, but I feel that it worked less well with these more mundane stories about love. That being said, I would recommend the show, as it is well performed, skilfully achieved what it set out to do, and watching it was an enjoyable experience and light relief from some of the more harrowing things I have been seeing at this year’s fringe.