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Aspects of Love – Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lyrics: Don Black and Charles Hart

Book: David Garnett

Director: Jonathan O’Boyle

Reviewer: Sam Lowe

Aspects of Love returns to the UK musical scene eight years after the revival production at Menier Chocolate Factory. Now we get to experience a smaller scale and intimate interpretation of this musical.

The story is set over a period of 17 years, between the late forties and early sixties. English student Alex Dillingham falls totally in love with actress Rose Vibert. When they become more acquainted with one another, they visit Alex’s uncle’s villa. They embark on an ardent and fervent romance. But, when uncle George is introduced into the equation everything changes. This is a musical which explores different aspects and types of love: romantic, unrequited, obsessive, friendship, paternal, and polyamorous love.

O’Boyle’s direction brings out the whirlwind journey of this romantic story. One minute it is dramatic and intense, the next it is light-hearted and funny. This means that when the cliffhanger ending finally occurs, with the ultimate question asked to Alex, it makes an impact. There is a subtle sense of theatricality in this production, evident in some of the character entrances or exits, and in the dance-inspired transitions.

The role of Alex is played by Felix Mosse. His singing voice possesses warmth, colour, and sweetness. He completely owns the iconic top note in Love Changes Everything. However, Mosse’s sensitive and youthful portrayal of Alex is not always convincing, and the characterisation doesn’t appear to change as Alex grows older either.

Kelly Price plays Rose with grace and style. Her acting through song, particularly in the number Anything But Lonely, is accomplished. It’s the way Price walks to the front of the stage with such impassioned spirit. It is a showstopper moment. The highly charged romance between Alex and Rose is believable, they respond to each other well as actors.

Designed by Jason Denvir, the restaurant influenced set with shutters is stunning. We see flowers and vines, lights and lamps, a piano, and other high decor furniture. Tables and chairs are allocated on the edge of the stage for the audience to sit on and be closer to the action. The simplicity of the set makes it easy to transition from one location to the next. Unfortunately, it isn’t always clear where the characters are in the story though, for example it takes a while to realise Alex and Rose are traveling on a train. As for the lighting, designed by Aaron J Dootson, it is beautifully mellow and compliments the production nicely.

Of course, you can tell this is an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, with leitmotifs constantly returning in the lavish score. The decision to reduce the orchestration considerably does not pay off, sadly. Webber’s complex score, which has the potential to produce a gorgeously big sound, has been reduced to 2 pianos and percussion, and therefore lacks impact. Playing the music through stage speakers doesn’t help either, affecting the authenticity of the sound.

Overall a strong production that misses the mark on some of its aspects.

Runs until 9th August 2018 | Image: Anthony Robling

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber Lyrics: Don Black and Charles Hart Book: David Garnett Director: Jonathan O'Boyle Reviewer: Sam Lowe Aspects of Love returns to the UK musical scene eight years after the revival production at Menier Chocolate Factory. Now we get to experience a smaller scale and intimate interpretation of this musical. The story is set over a period of 17 years, between the late forties and early sixties. English student Alex Dillingham falls totally in love with actress Rose Vibert. When they become more acquainted with one another, they visit Alex's uncle's villa. They embark on an ardent and…

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One comment

  1. Don’t agree about orchestration/piano at all. The piano was the perfect scale for the set at the Hope Mill, anything bigger would have been disproportional. Other reviews make the same point, so I fear this point of view is very much a minority viewpoint. The singing is quite superb.!

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