Writer: John Kolvenbach
Director: Charlie Kenber
Reviewer: Charlotte Broadbent
Kenber and Son’s latest production of Love Song is being staged at The Holt, a converted warehouse-turned-cafe and creative space in Sheffield. For those not yet acquainted, Kenber and Son are a company comprising of director Charlie Kenber and multidisciplinary artist R.L.Wilson. They are passionate about staging work in non-traditional spaces and using the architecture to influence and comment on their work. Their combined vision and commitment to the company aesthetic have helped create a play that is able to be modern yet timeless.
Kenber and Wilson have dug out a rarely performed treasure with Love Song (Olivier award nominee Best New Comedy 2007). It is a modern play about relationships, imagination and the blur between the literal and the abstract. This last concept, in particular, is played with brilliantly in the directorial and design choices.
At the top of the play we meet husband and wife Joan (Jenny Platt) and Harry (Nathan Medina), they bound in with energy and humour and are soon joined by Beane (Will Kelly), Joan’s brother. Beane’s world is brutally awoken after an encounter with a feral burglar, Molly (Caitlin Thorburn) who causes Beane to reassess his relationship with the world around him. Joan and Harry are simultaneously thrilled and horrified by this new development and concerns grow as they begin to question how healthy this new relationship is.
Joan and Harry enjoy working hard and living the city life in a stark contrast to the immediate surroundings of The Holt which Kenber and Wilson have deliberately exposed. This makes the audience feel that they are mostly inhabiting Beane’s humble and modest world, which is an interesting choice as, while Beane is a central character we hear about him more than we see him.
The standard of acting is high with some complicated characters to portray. Nathan Medina is endearing as Harry, his curiosity straying into obsession but always played with warmth. Jenny Platt plays the role of motor-mouthed Joan with ferocity and is a powerhouse on stage. Will Kelly is explosive as Beane, moving from vulnerable to electric and back again seamlessly. Caitlin Thorburn is a woman on fire as Molly, mercurial and delicate.
Overall, Love Song is a considered and unique theatrical experience. Wilson has employed a variety of theatrical elements to immerse the audience while all the while embracing the realism of the space beautifully marrying the abstract with the literal. A glimpse into the other side played with humour and intelligence. Catch it while you can!
Runs until 28 April 2018 | Image: Contributed