first night

Love and Understanding

Rebecca Flynn reviews Love and Understanding

 Green Door Theatre Company

Steffi Walker’s direction in Green Door Theatre Company’s Love and Understanding is superb, creating three enthralling performances; her play choice leaves much to be desired.

Joe Penhall’s drama felt exceptionally clichéd and cheesy at times with a predictable story line that was uncomfortably resonant with You, Me and Dupree. A medical couple, Rachel and Neal, are imposed upon by the Neal’s troubled, yet charming, childhood friend, Richie.

Cheatle’s Rachel is subtle, yet effective, and she uses body language to great effect. Tom Eklid (Neal) shows good character advancement, as I felt the slow progression from stable, yet anxious, doctor to a man driven to almost strangling his childhood friend. Cheatle and Eklid, however, do not have as much chemistry as I hoped for, with passionless kisses throughout. Although the couple are meant to be disconnected, it still felt as though there would be the remnants of a loving relationship. The chemistry is never lacking between Richie (David Myers) and Neal, however, and the standout scene is Myers’s sociopathic, drunk soliloquy. Myers’s eye contact with audience members is unbreakable and I was so captivated that he made me jump.

Chad’s Quad is extremely intimate. I particularly liked the pictures on the back wall which reinforced that there were three in the relationship. However, the back wall also proved distracting, as the company’s name seems incredibly suitable when a backlit stage crew emerges from the doors, like oompa loompas, for the numerous scene changes. They were efficient but unfortunately they were backlit and on occasion appeared more clearly than the cast. The tech director cannot be blamed, but unfortunately, the Quad’s lack of lighting rigs means that long shadows are cast from low positioned lighting, and, particularly in the bedroom scenes, cast members were in one another’s shadows. The Quad’s central position meant that at points I did wonder if we had been transported to a hospital (or an asylum) as distant wails could be heard from time to time.

Love and Understanding was engaging thanks to the acting, the director, and to be honest, the endearing tech crew, but sadly the script left much to be desired.

* * *

Rebecca Flynn

16 March 2012

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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