This Thing Called Love ~ So and So Arts Club, London

Reviewed by Helen McWilliams

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‘This Thing Called Love’ written by Shelley Silas, appears in the Ever Hopefull Rep season at the So and So Arts Club, this is one of four new plays. The So and So Arts Club supports new writing, among other things and you can find our interview with its founder, Sarah Berger here: https://breakalegreviewblog.wordpress.com/2015/08/27/spotlight-on-sarah-jane-berger/

What struck me with this play, is that not only is it a new piece, but also a two-hander, which in my opinion and experience can be a precarious mix. It is imperative that the actors are of equal ability in order to hold the audience’s attention while ‘telling’ the story between them. In this case, the casting of seasoned television and theatre actress, Felicity Dean as Maggie together with Walter Van Dyk (who also has an impressive list of credits to his name) as Jack, were the proverbial ‘dream team’. One felt that this was not a play we were watching, but rather a window into the lives of the couple, almost (at certain times) as one would observe while ‘people-watching’.

Following the blossoming romance of a couple who had known one other platonically, the story opens on a hotel room where Jack and Maggie are meeting in clandestine circumstances, some elements of this meeting are left almost deliberately ambiguous, but explained more fully as the piece moves on. Maggie is not a straight forward individual, her insecurities, absurdities and fear all contribute towards her feisty characteristics, she has been crafted with great attention to detail in a highly observational way. Dean plays her with a natural and under-stated, almost demure quality and is effortless in her portrayal. Jack is a well-rounded mature male character, egotistical, with a need for self assurance and an occasional sense of hopelessness coming across as the relationship flourishes and does indeed turn into ‘love’. Van Dyk plays him with minimal fuss, to the point where slipping into the role seems as second nature as it does to that of Dean as Maggie.

There is a sense that the ‘thing’ which essentially is ‘love’, is not exclusive to them as their previous relationships with their deceased spouses are explored, sometimes when least expected which moves the play along well. Not forgetting the children that both characters have, whose opinions of their relationship are vital to them. There is a suggestion of the bigger picture, which detracts from the fact that it is a two-hander, cleverly written, in my opinion.

The direction by Ben Caplan suits the pace of the piece and the set is uncomplicated yet compelling, every scene change moves the audience on with the characters. Overall, it’s a play I could watch repeatedly as I feel it would evoke new emotions each time.

The rep season runs until 27th September, plenty of time to catch this play and indeed the other three: ‘American Venus’, ‘Mercy’ and ‘The House’. Visit http://buyticketsat/thesoandsoartsclub/30580 to book your tickets, you won’t regret it!

 

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