Lovers Walk

Marcelo Dos Santos, Gemma Kerr and the cast.
HighHearted Theatre
Southwark Playhouse
(2010)

Lovers Walk publicity image

They say that Paris is the City of Love, but Lovers Walk shows that London is just as, if not more, romantic than the French capital, with plenty of its own joie de vivre.

Relationships are journeys and so it is most fitting that HighHearted Theatre's latest piece is just that. The promenade performance takes in some of London's best known sights as the tale of two lovers, Rosie and Matt, and how they met is told along the Thames path.

Written by Marcelo Dos Santos, Gemma Kerr, Matt Odell and Rosie Waters, Lovers Walk is a charming piece of theatre which explores the ups and downs of relationships and romance. The production was first seen at the Brighton Fringe Festival in May and has been re-written especially for its new home of London.

HighHearted Theatre really do put the specific into site-specific theatre. Rosie talks of trains metaphorically screaming as they do just that entering London Bridge station and she and Matt have an argument over HMS Belfast's likeness to Margaret Thatcher in front of the historic ship. The Unicorn Theatre and Southwark Cathedral provide other scenic stops along the way as the text, like the nearby Thames, flows at a steady pace and provides each actor with the opportunity to demonstrate a wide range of emotions.

Waters and Odell take on the roles of both narrator and protagonist and jump in and out of character as they guide the audience around an area which means so much to their characters' relationship and past. Rosie and Matt receive approximately 50% of the dialogue each and so it is up to each individual audience member with whom to empathise as the writers enforce no bias.

The capital city becomes a beautiful backdrop to the lovers' tale and the piece's strength lies in the fact that moments from the couples' past are played out in the exact spots where they happened. Just like a relationship, the piece has the audience wondering where will they be taken next? Where will it all lead? The past is brought to life and one can't help but want to know how the relationship progresses, having been privy to the pair's first meeting, first kiss and first argument.

In the roles of lovers, Odell and Waters prove themselves master storytellers and as Rosie and Matt's story is played out in front of an audience, lovers line the Thames under a glorious September sunset. The Lovers' Walk of the title reminds us that every couple has their own story to tell and with the performance focusing on relationships, other people's become more and more obvious. Having been privy to Rosie and Matt's conversations, one wonders what the other lovers encountered along the way are discussing, and whether their relationships have just started, are going strong, or over?

In Lovers Walk, HighHearted Theatre have created a piece of wonderful storytelling, full of heart to warm even the coldest of autumnal breezes.

Playing until 3rd October 2010

Reviewer: Simon Sladen