Edinburgh Review: The Love Story
ABI BENNETT finds that ‘for all of Syborn’s excellent writing, and the valiant attempts of Patrick Walshe McBride and Guilia Galastro as the two characters, this play had nothing new to say’
Edinburgh Fringe: C Soco
Written & Directed by Freddy Syborn
As is fairly obvious from the title, Freddie Syborn’s new play, and half of the Negative Capability duo, is about love. We’ve heard it all before; man meets woman, man woos woman with his charming goofiness, their relationship meets problems (long distances, a mystifyingly abrupt pregnancy), and then the man gets a terminal illness and dies.
This clichéd storyline was where The Love Story fell down; for all of Syborn’s excellent writing, and the valiant attempts of Patrick Walshe McBride and Guilia Galastro as the two characters, this play had nothing new to say. It was a chick flick on stage.
However, the writing was brilliant. The love scenes managed to perfectly capture that strange paradox of being in love; everyone in love feels like they’re the only person to have ever felt like this, yet everyone in love acts in exactly the same way. Watching Ed and Victoria act out moments of tenderness, which I could recognise having done myself, almost made me cringe as I realised just how pedestrian love really is.
There were certain moments, though, which just didn’t fit with the rest of the play. For example, a bizarre scene in which Victoria tells Ed she’s pregnant, and she’s going to have an abortion, jarred with the rest of the plot; considering a baby had never been hinted at beforehand, and is never mentioned again afterwards.
It felt as though Syborn was busy ticking his list of relationship problems: unwanted pregnancy, check. Equally, after his diagnosis, Ed launches into a long diatribe against the British government, for their policy of not checking blood donations for his disease. This moment of polemic could have enlivened a dragging plot, but instead just felt weird.
The acting was competent, though it never shone. Both Walshe McBride and Galastro are brilliant actors, though here they seemed to be lacking in both direction and rehearsal. Although the scenes had been blocked well, with some interesting movement, character development was lacking, and Ed and Victoria never felt coherent, and so the play never felt like a cohesive whole. This disjunction between scenes was also found in the awfully long scene changes, especially annoying as the props brought in and out so painstakingly added nothing to the play.
Despite the brave attempts of Syborn, Walshe McBride and Galastro, this play was never going to dazzle. With such a weak plot nothing they could have done would have kept the audience interested. I was even more disappointed after having seen Anatomy Act, which was excellent, to see the waste of Syborn’s talent on such a worthless topic. This play felt like an afterthought; hopefully he’ll stick to writing more about the word cunt from now on.