Last Updated on 18th November 2018
Jennifer Christie reviews the European premiere of Love-Lies-Bleeding by Don Delillo now playing at the Print Room at the Coronet.
Print Room at the Coronet
14 November 2019
Love-Lies-Bleeding is in its European debut season at the Print Room at the Coronet. It was written by prolific novelist Don Delillo and had its first public reading in 2005 in the US. This is the second play by DeLillo that has been directed by Jack McNamara, the first being Valpraiso in 2006. McNamara enjoys DeLillo’s literary use of words calling the lines ‘miniature works of art on their own’.
The performances of the cast are all well defined and authentically voiced and for the most part the transition between the timeframe of the scenes is easily followed. However the pace and flow of the narrative suffers from the frequency of the shifts and the action sometimes becomes bogged down in an avalanche of words.
Alex has been suffering in silence since his second stroke and is being cared for by his fourth wife Lia when his son, Sean arrives with second wife Toinette and a load of morphine to ease Alex over to the other side. As you can see the tale is already made more convoluted with the abstract relationships.
For much of the play Joe McGann sits still and silent in a wheelchair while he is manipulated by those around him. It is impossible to tell what his character Alex is thinking with his closed face and unmoving eyes. There are several flashback scenes of his relationship with the others where McGann paints a picture of the vital Alex.
The set is visually stimulating. At first it seems to be the patio of a house in the desert with a vista of wide open spaces and glorious light: ‘I saw a dead man on the subway once’. This from a man clearly speeding toward his end. The design team have done well to support the depths of this narrative with Lily Arnold on set and costume design and Azusa Ono on lighting. Andrzej Goulding, video designer, is responsible for the visual impact of the fast move training which was further enhanced by the sound design of Alexandra Faye Braithwaite.
Love-Lies-Bleeding is also the name of a flowering shrub. In the world of the meaning of flowers it is held to represent helplessness or helpless love. It’s an apt title for a play that explores the endpoint of life and debates the right of the cognisant living to end the perceived vegetative state of another.
The question for me is more: how can one predict choice confronted with a situation loaded with such personal connections? Like many life decisions it is impossible to know the ultimate road to take and in the case of Toinette, who thought she knew, when it came down to the action there were obvious doubts.
Until 8 Decxember 2018