It is rare, at least in the new writing that I have seen, that the entire production works together seamlessly, however the team of Michelle Barnette’s Love Me Now have achieved just that. Upon entering this black box space that is Tristan Bates Theatre, Fin Redshaw’s set design is an intriguing sight- we are met with clothes strewn across the stage and a messy bed, but the most intriguing is the bed frame, mounted on a slanted base, with red tubes and string criss-crossing up the headboard and into the lighting rig. Integrated into this is Ben Jacobs’ lighting design, which turns these tubes into neon trails during scene transitions, symbolising the frenetic energy during sex and arguments, which are the dominant events of this piece. Complimenting this is Andy Josephs’ sound design, which during the scene changes uses a low- level rumble to represent the ever- increasing stakes.
With Jamie Armitage directing, Helena Wilson, Alistair Toovey and Gianbruno Spena play the characters attempting to navigate the world of dating and asks the question, is there such a thing as ‘casual sex’? Wilson shines as the dry- witted, fast-talking one of the partnership she shares with Toovey, and within the events of this mostly two-hander play, topics such as female representation in relation to sex, male entitlement, bravado and consent are powerfully explored. Toovey’s character is the playboy who always gets who he wants, and his insecurities wonderfully seep through the cracks. The scenes are refreshingly organic, causing the audience to become so involved with the plot that the energy in the room is scintillating. Spena’s delivery is a deliberate contrast to Toovey’s, giving off the impression of a ‘nice guy’, which, like the topic of the importance of sleeping around, is turned on it’s head by Barnette, where ‘nice’ means not expecting the woman to swear or express contrasting opinions.
Barnette’s writing jumps backwards and forwards in the narrative, thoughtfully looking back at what has led to the story that we are first presented with. Barnette’s characters represent the society in which we live today, which still puts the responsibility on the woman for the actions of the man and expects women to endure the flawed man whilst he grows and makes mistakes, even though it is never expected to be reciprocated.
Love Me Now is a new play that is not to be missed, thanks to its relatability, stunning writing and the impeccable standard that the whole company possesses, it is definitely one to watch.
Love Me Now is playing Tristan Bates Theatre until 14 April 2018
Photo: Helen Murray