Southwark Playhouse (venue)
10 January 2019 (released)
12 January 2019
After the success of ‘The Rink’ last summer, Southwark playhouse brings us, ‘Aspects of Love’ another lesser known musicals by another extremely well known composer. But that’s where the comparison ends. Aspects of Love written in 1989 just after Phantom of the Opera and before Sunset Boulevard is an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that few have seen staged and it makes for fascinating, if not entirely comfortable viewing.
It opens in France, 1947 when seventeen year old Alex falls in love with older actress Rose. He convinces her to come and stay in his uncle George’s villa where cross-generational, romantic entanglements begin. Based on David Garnett’s 1955 novel, the world of free-loving actors and artists may well have resonated with Lloyd Weber’s own life but unlike his better known works of wider scope, it has dated in subtle ways. To a contemporary audience there are some distinctly dubious romantic liaisons, the director’s notes informing us that fifteen was the age of consent in France doing little to mitigate that aspect.
There are many enjoyable moments with detailed performances and divine vocals from Kelly Price as Rose. But director Jonathan Boyle does not seem to have resolved the difficulty of staging what is an unwieldy show of 39 scenes, spanning twenty years and three generations. Set on a thrust stage with audience on three sides, designer Jason Denvir has managed to contain the piece into a single set yet it sometimes feels caught between naturalism and symbolism with numerous costume changes and the ensemble constantly moving chairs and tables.
There’s undoubtedly some classic Lloyd Webber magic at work here but with the band, reduced to two keyboards and percussion it never really takes off. That said it’s exciting to hear ‘Love Changes Everything’ in context as well as new discoveries, ‘Seeing is Believing’ and ‘ Anything but lonely.’ Recommended for those curious about this lesser known work.