★★★

On our anniversary, he always gave me a rose per year of our relationship until he said it is too expensive and he planted a rose tree instead.


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Sweaty palms, awkward silence, butterflies in your stomach: the magic of First Love. Regardless if it is the joy of ecstasy or a hint of the depths of despair. It is an enchanting memory, a melancholic weightlessness, the racing of heartbeats.

In The First Love Project, Bear Pit Theatre gives a platform to the poetic, comedic and depressive stories about the first – sometimes even the last – love stories belonging to the older generations. Retold through the bodies and voices of the younger generation, the show is a vibrant and vivacious fusion of verbatim, physical theatre, puppetry, dance and music.

Directed by Jeremy Piper, the cast of a dozen male and female teenagers re-tell interviews taken with their grandparents and local seniors about the ups and downs of a first love’s kiss. Piper compiled the interviews into a kaleidoscope of impressions, experiences and reflections, and these storylines either run throughout the performance or are given a specific place within a roller-coaster ride of interdisciplinary storytelling.

A young girl flees home to be together with her love, gets pregnant and is then abandoned. Another falls in love with the handwriting of a Russian submarine officer during the war, dares him to marry her despite religious complications, and first visits Russia after her second husbands has died. A summer love dies in autumn, another is continued throughout the years. An Indian couple reflects on their arranged marriage by the playful awkwardness of finishing each other’s sentences.  

In the setting of an attic – design by Piper – The First Love Projects dusts off memories and revives them through the perspective and interplay of the teenage cast. Through a skilful and convincing performance featuring various accents and dialects, the cast awaken the voices of their participants. In intimate duets, solo dances and group movements, the various shades of love – its intimacy, its loss – are captured. Accompanied by original music by Nate Reid, puppets come to life, and storylines are filled with energetic commitment.

The First Love Project is a sensitive, poetic and touching revival of lived and told stories. Nevertheless, the freshness of their physical storytelling becomes gradually repetitive. Furthermore, despite the professionality of the cast, the connection of the ensemble is sometimes lost in detailed physical work. The end scene is an enchanting reunion of couples from the love stories, but as a merge of past and present, unfortunately does not consider same sex relationships.  

That said, the production does unify its audience through the remembrance of first love’s sparks. Go and watch in wonder. 

 

The First Love Project is playing at CVenues in CMain until the 26th of August. For more information and tickets, see here

Photo Credit: Bear Pit Theatre