As always, Theatre503 presents a friendly atmosphere in a tucked away location, oozing enthusiasm and buzzing with theatre chatter – a perfect setting for innovative new writing, and LOVEC@T does not disappoint.
The basis of Ant Stones’s play is a man telling a story of love, life and Role Play Games. Munroe recollects the years following the point where he, as an 11 year old on a tree branch, met Penny, a be-freckled musician, and the journey through friendship as they grew up and moved apart. We are led along the developing technology of the last decade with the aid of synthesised music and block-colour projections, as Munroe pours out his heart and mind in a wonderfully honest production.
Andrew Kinsler plays the awkwardly endearing Munroe, building his life onstage with vivid expression and a beautiful command of words. He creates for us the image of his dog Ulysses and provides such a deep insight into the emotions of a young man that I could have sworn it was his own story being portrayed in front of me. The level of integrity was stunning, and a mixture of comic timing, clever word-play and ‘what was not said’ creates a truly remarkable one-man show of depth and heart. Combining the imagination of the actor and a brave out-front performance makes LOVEC@T unique and thoroughly interesting.
The simplistic but symbolic use of light by Chris Withers sets off the text, adding another dimension to the story and building on the moods of Munroe, with a strangely cathartic effect on the audience as they journey with him. The only set is a desk chair and a cardboard box which means that the creation of trees, streets and rooms is left wholly to Kinsler, with Withers washing emotive colours on a screen. This technique, when done as well as it is here, makes traditional sets seems almost excessive. The sound, composed by George Lewkowicz and Joe Watson, enhanced the multi-sensory experience and echoed the true-to-life nature of the piece, as it used the kind of instruments available on the first music-making gadgets. Audio of a jamming guitarist and slightly eerie techno appeared to be coming from Munroe’s own mind, as though we were listening in on an internal monologue.
References to Myspace – “she knew about it before it was lame. Before it was cool even” – and subtle mocking comments on the life of internet trolls and real-life Role Playing Games made the piece relevant without being patronising. Even I, probably one of the youngest audience members, appreciated the jokes and questioned the online world as a means of communication which, in Munroe’s case, just didn’t quite fulfil the friendship.
LOVEC@T is a play that everyone can relate to – a heart-warming, natural portrayal of a real ‘somebody’ on their insignificant journey through life. As individual as each of us, and the venue it was played in.