REVIEW: Love Story, Union Theatre ✭✭✭

Love Story the musical at the Union theatre
David Albury and Victoria Sierra in Love Story at the Union Theatre. Photo: Darren Bell

The Howard Goodall season continues at Southwark’s Union Theatre with a production of Love Story based on the Erich Segal’s novel and subsequent film starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neil.

The adaptation of the Oscar nominated film Love Story, was never going to be an easy task. When you are faced with an ending where your principal female character dies at the age of 25, it would be easy to sink into a over-wrought mess ,but Love story manages to skirt this dilemma by providing a narrative that is perhaps a little too light .

One of the great things about the Union Theatre is their ability to present shows in a stripped back form, where the material and talent can shine unhindered. It’s a sword of Damocles at times, as this format can also highlight weaknesses and amplify them. Sasha Regan’s production of Love Story works wonderously in this format, it allows us a voyeuristic insight into a tragic relationship that is enhanced by the intimacy of the venue.. The stunning opening scene was poignant and was elegantly aimed at the heart,  but in songs like Pasta, the transition of time (some years in this case) clearly highlighted in the lyric, was lost in the staging.

Victoria Sierra as Jenny Cavilleri and David Albury as Oliver Barratt IV, as the young student couple share the warmth and passion of youth, determined to make their place in the world, despite family misgivings.  There is real chemistry in their performances, allowing the audience to buy into their relationship. Whilst focus in the piece is centered on this pairing, there are some stunning moments centred around the couples parents which I would have loved to have seen more of.

Under the direction of Inga Davis Rutter and her magical quartet, Goodall’s score is handled with gusto. Sierra and Cavilleri make it easy to buy into this tragic fairy tale, but ultimately Love Story falls short of being an all out tear-jerker which is a real disappointment.

Love story runs at the Union Theatre til October 25.

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