REBEKAH-MIRON CLAYTON is moved by this poignant and sensitive production.

ageing armitage brooks Corpus hower Lovesong

Corpus Playroom, 7 PM, June 10th – 14th, £6/5.

Directed by Sarah Stacey, this  is a simplistic and effective performance of a play that can often become overwrought with stylistic devices. A timeline of the marriage between Billy and Maggie is told through a revolving mirror that reflects moments of their life together across the ages in the fashion of a disjointed photo album. It is an honest insight into the trials of married life, and an affirmation of the strength of true love enduring throughout adversity and into old age. Although stiff and a little unconvincing to begin with, those representing the younger and older couple soon grow into their relationships and at times show some delightful chemistry.

In certain moments, particularly between the younger versions of Billy and Maggie played by Jamie Armitage and Bridie Murphy, the careful selection of music and lighting allows them to exist before the eyes of the older couple played by Harry Gower and Sasha Brooks, in a kind of dreamlike mirage that is instantly effective. In one of these such moments, the music and lighting on the younger couple suddenly cuts out, revealing the older versions of themselves staring wistfully into the empty space.

Gentle physical theatre aids the natural jerkiness of a play that is constantly switching between time zones, yet at times elements of this movement shows practise was needed. At first physical theatre between the couples seems a little forced, as does Armitage’s laughter in response to his young wife.

However these elements seem to grow and mature over the course of the play, and the problems may well have been caused by first night nerves. Despite this, the movement allows another more symbolic dimension to emerge in which the two versions of the couples were allowed to interact. In one of these occasions, the older Billy dances with his younger Maggie whilst his current wife looks on, creating an effectively melancholic juxtaposition of the ages.

Both couples must be praised for the different assets they offer to the depiction of such a lengthy marriage. Harry Gower as the older Billy is to be applauded for his stage presence and truthful performance particularly during the sad events of the plays finale. His presentation of the deterioration of his composure as he aids his elderly wife (Brooks) in the last stages of her life is truly heartbreaking.

Another effective relationship is shown in the brief encounter between the older and younger Maggie, as Brooks steadies Murphy’s shaking hands and helps her to fold baby clothes. This moment, highlighting the conflict surrounding Maggie’s infertility, left many of the audience noticeably emotionally moved. In lighter moments, elements of playful humour between the younger couple are used to good effect by Murphy, creating a sense of relatable youth that is poignantly still reflected within the older version of the couple.

Lovesong will only grow in strength over the course of its run, and is undeniably successful in profoundly communicating that ‘The world changes and you with it’. Its portrayal of life, love and the passing of time is allowed to be simplistic and honest and does not become overrun or cheapened with theatricality. The director is to be commended for her sensitivity.