Ten Storey Love Song - Theatre ☆☆☆3
Showing from - Wednesday, March 2, 2016 through till Saturday, March 12, 2016
Hull Truck Theatre - Kingston-upon-Hull
Jackie Foottit | Thursday, March 3, 2016
Swear words spewed forth, and that was just (mentally) from me, wondering how on earth I could explain – in non-swearing parlance – what I had just witnessed, on the intimate Studio stage at the Hull Truck Theatre, when Ten Storey Love Song came to town.
Me, an unshockable, battle-hardened child of the 60s, was momentarily lost for words as the ****’s and the ****’s were spat out,Ten Storey Love Song won’t be to everyone’s taste, but neither was The Sound Of Music
but I soon regained my composure enough to realise that, behind all the profanities, a story of real people with real lives was being played out.
The five actors – Marc Graham as Bobby the artist, Annabel Betts as Georgie, Sophie Thompson as Ellen, Ed Cole as Johnnie and Matthew May in a dual role as Alan Blunt and Lewis – played their parts so realistically, that, looking at their photos in the programme, it’s hard to believe they are the same people. Oscars all round.
Time for introductions. Georgie works on the Pick ‘n’ Mix sweet counter in BHS and is addicted to sweets. Her laid-back boyfriend, Bobby, is addicted to Ecstasy, but can paint a decent picture. Work-shy Ellen is on the dole and is in a relationship with hard-knock Johnny, whose love-making skills, much to Ellen’s dissatisfaction, have been learned from hard-core porn videos.
Then there is Alan Blunt, a lost, misunderstood soul – foul-mouthed like the rest of ‘em, and not a character I could warm to – well, maybe not until events near the end. And finally, there is Lewis, a cocky southern art dealer. All (except Lewis) live in a high-rise block of flats in a run-down part of Middlesbrough.
Roger Milward’s novel, adapted by Luke Barnes, intertwines the worries, loves, losses, heartbreak, snobbery and paranoia of these characters in such a clever way that we view them as a team, while, at the same time, soaking up their individual stories.
We follow Georgie’s attempts to get Bobby off the drugs and will Bobby to success when Lewis the London art dealer entices him to the capital to sell his paintings. We feel for Ellen, who loves Johnny but can’t stand his wham, bam, thank you ma’am attitude to sex. And we dislike the creepy Alan Blunt who can’t keep away from the school playground and seems obsessed with a young girl, Tiny Tina, playing in there – even planning to kidnap her.
Slowly, problems are solved (not all happily), futures planned and much pleasanter characters emerge. The ones that survive, anyway.
The simple stage setting, a video backdrop, and the soulful singing voice of Anna Wilson, stage-side, accompanied by Jamie Orvis on electronics, all served to enhance rather than detract from proceedings.
Ten Storey Love Song won’t be to everyone’s taste, but neither was The Sound Of Music. Love it or hate it, you won’t forget it in a hurry.
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