Friday, May 10, 2013

LOVE IS MY SIN - Review, photos by Joe Calleri.

Where and When – La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday Street, Carlton, Victoria – May 09, 2013 – May 19, 2013.
Reviewer - Joe Calleri.

Theatre audiences more accustomed to seeing productions of William Shakespeare’s famous plays will in equal measures be intrigued and seduced by Love Is My Sin, a refined, elegant production, that highlights 29 of Shakespeare’s love sonnets deftly directed by Melbourne theatre director and playwright, Kate Herbert.

Herbert’s interpretation of director Peter Brook’s adaptation, possesses no narrative as such, and her two performers, Jenny Lovell and Geoff Wallis, do not portray characters. They are simply, the woman and the man.

Herbert respectfully, carefully, skilfully structures the sonnets in such a way that they provide the audience with an imagined timeline and uneven trajectory of a long love affair between the man and the woman.

All the powerful emotions that you expect in a relationship - infatuation, love, hate, jealousy, indifference, rage - are represented in Shakespeare’s words which, while written in the 17th century, bear equal weight and import in the 21st.

The relationship between the man and the woman, spoken through the sonnets, starts off playfully, lovingly, as most relationships do. But, as the years pass, first cracks, then deep fissures begin to appear, and doubts, misunderstandings, arguments, and separation ensue. 

This performance requires you pay close attention to each word that Lovell and Wallis speak and every nuance of their performance.

Reminding us that Shakespeare wrote the sonnets to be read, the two performers alternate between reading directly from books and scripts and performing the sonnets – admirably memorised – as impassioned dialogue.

Intriguingly, unexpectedly almost, you feel yourself being drawn in and beguiled by the beauty of Shakespeare’s language, like bees to honey.

Herbert places Lovell and Wallis in a simple, sparse space furnished with only a table, whiteboard and butcher’s paper. Each actor take turns in either writing the theme of a block of sonnets – Devouring Time, Separation, Jealousy and Time Defeated – on the whiteboard, or writing lines from the sonnets on the paper. This is an interesting device adopted by Herbert to ensure that the production does not become overly static.

Herbert also casts talented, young cellist, Helen Barclay, who skilfully, passionately, plays either entire or parts of nine suites and sonatas for cello. The evocative cello provides the musical equivalent of chapter headings to the various sections of the sonnets.

This production does everything right, and deserves both a larger performance space and audiences who can truly appreciate not only the Bard’s exquisite language, but also the fine, thoughtful performances from Lovell, Wallis and Barclay.



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