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Roughcast theatre's Lovesong reviewed by David Vass

Abi Morgan’s play spans 40 years, with the four members of the company playing a couple at the beginning and the end of their marriage.

Anyone familiar with the work of Roughcast Theatre will realise what a huge departure this is for a company best known for the classics. First performed in 2011, this is the closest they have come to a contemporary work.

Lovesong flips back and forth between time frames, with the younger and elder couples frequently occupying the same stage. Audaciously, Morgan even has the generations cross over and interact, an apt metaphor for remembrances of things past.

All of this was adeptly tackled by a uniformly strong cast. Paul Baker offered up a measured and authentic study of a world-weary man caught up in circumstances beyond his control.

Yves Green was excellent as the elder Maggie, giving her best performance since her Big Mama in Cat on Hot Tin Roof.

Benjamin Willmott, an actor best known for his light comedic touch, proved himself able to take on a grittier role.

Best of all, if only in the sense of first among equals, was Emma Martin, who seems to grow with every performance she gives. While notionally a four hander, all eyes were on her mesmerising interpretation of the young Margaret.

I can’t say I share director Joe Edwards-Gill’s enthusiasm for the play, which I felt fizzled out towards the end, but any misgivings I have are entirely with the text.

Budgetary constraints accepted (the West End version was all smoke and mirrors), this was well-staged, tightly choreographed, with Philip Glass’s Metamorphosis only adding to its impact.

What really set it apart, however, was the excellence of its cast, and the commendable ambition of staging such a challenging play in the first place.

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