Review: Love and Money

LOUIS SHANKAR is impressed by the performances in this chaotic but thought-provoking play.

Cambridge Drama love and money New Cellars pembroke players

Love and Money focuses on the story of Jess and Debbie, a seemingly happy newlywed couple troubled with debt and credit.

Told through a non-linear chronology, which takes quite a lot of time and effort to gradually understand, the play opens with a startling attempted suicide and concludes with a rather subdued monologue about the universe and love.

The dislocated story gradually falls into place, although this production didn’t give as much help as it could. It took a Google search and a flick through Wikipedia to actually understand some of what had happened. There was a lack of time and distinction between scenes that didn’t help break through this confusion.

To add to the disorder, the stage is filled with set for several different scenes at the same time. Pembroke New Cellars isn’t the easy space to use well but the central stage-space surrounded by the audience helped navigate these issues.

The complex, symmetrical use of set did reduce the need for awkward scene changes, although the times when different parts of action were happening simultaneously across the stage was distracting. At one point, as a pair of parents were pouring their hearts out about their deceased daughter, simultaneously another pair of actors were miming an act of fellatio in the corner, which somewhat detracted from the intensity of the other scene.

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However, the chaotic production was somewhat salvaged by a very strong set of performances from the cast. Louis Rogers and Avigail Tlalim should especially be commended for the diversity of their acting, quickly switching from slick professionals in one scene to seedy, cringe-worthy individuals in the next.

An emphasis on money over love was definitely noticeable. Tenderness between Jess (Beth Dubow) and David (Ryan Monk) was lacking and strained at times. The culmination of the play seemed to be more out of selfishness than love, leaving a slightly empty feeling once the play is over. This might be intentional, although the nuanced and complex script suggest otherwise.

The pacing was relentless but without the final sense of satisfaction and fulfilment that it needed. The concluding monologue felt overly-long and needed either more action or less time to keep the audience’s interest. The overall power of the play seemed slightly lost, caught up in the pace and the havoc of the show.

This very nearly worked very well, partly due to this chaos, which reflected the intensity of the titular themes.

However, a little polish and more time for the audience to process the action could make this show truly fantastic.

Three stars