[author-post-rating] (2/5 stars) For a show almost exclusively about sex and violence, L.O.V.E. manages to be surprisingly dull. It’s extremely well-choreographed, and the physical prowess of the performers who hurl themselves and each other about the stage is impressive, but overall the show left me cold. James Hewison’s movement direction is slick and the cast (Tibu Fortes, Mairi Phillips and Joseph Reay-Reid) carry it off with wild energy. And yet, it remains curiously repetitious; the three performers couple up and un-couple, writhe in threesomes or pairs, fight, kiss and touch breathlessly for 75mins, but it never really ignites. For a show this aggressively sexual, it’s curiously unerotic.
Shakespeare’s sonnets are used as the basis of the dialogue and plot, so far as there is one, which is only patchily effective. Again, Paul Davies’s direction tends towards the repetitious, and the occasional beautiful moment is not enough to make the piece into anything resembling a cohesive whole. When the sonnets are recited as the backing rhythm for a dance piece they are at their most interesting, but too often this descends into repeated words and phrases, and heavy breathing is substituted for real meaning or emotion. The poetry gets rather mangled – the cast’s verse-speaking is great, but there’s too much else going on, all the time, to concentrate on the words.
Having said that, it’s actually boring to watch. In the absence of a discernable narrative (they break up, make up, seduce, abuse, touch, undress and fight each other, in various permutations and combinations), the sonnets are reduced almost to nonsense. Again, a few moments of clarity aren’t enough to illuminate the rest of L.O.V.E. For all of the show’s frantic energy, it doesn’t actually say or do very much. The cast are to be commended, though, for their fluid, dynamic performances and fantastic movement.
L.O.V.E.‘s pick’n’mix approach to Shakespeare’s works doesn’t make you look at the poems in a new light, and the words and emotion rather get lost in the noise. Full of sound and fury, and signifying not very much.
L.O.V.E. is at Assembly Roxy until 25 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.