Some Small Love Story

Alexander Wright and Gavin Whitworth
Hartshorn - Hook Productions
Arts Theatre

Keir McEwan, Serena Mamteghi, Callum McArdle and Samantha Siddall in Some Small Love Story

Having to stand waiting in a crowded bar until twenty minutes after the curtain should have risen on a show that lasts not much more than twice that long does not exactly put me in a good mood. It says a great deal for this show that despite my irritation it immediately won me over.

It is very simple. Four performers, simply dressed in black, accompanied by pianist Joe Griffiths stand in a line in front of black drapes and face straight out to the audience, just occasionally changing places. They tell two interwoven stories of enduring love. The text by Alexander Wright is sometimes simply spoken, sometimes supported by Gavin Whitworth’s music and sometimes turns into song.

It begins with a young couple talking about their grandfather, whose wife died sitting in the garden while he made her a cup of tea. It is a story that looks backwards over fifty years of happy marriage and still continues in the old man’s memory and imagination.

This pair are joined by another who look into the future to the day they meet at a New Year party and kiss beneath the mistletoe, a happy future tragically cut short by a car crash but a love that, like that of the old man and his wife, still continues, even though the husband goes on to marry again and raise a family.

Put down in black and white like that it may sound a little mawkish—but it isn’t, it is heartrendingly touching and hopeful, something to reassure. It works because of the openness and sincerity the performers give it: Serena Manteghi and Keir McEwan remembering the grandparents, Samantha Siddall and Callum McArdle as the lovers to be and Joe Griffiths on the keyboard.

It moves effortlessly between speech and song and the stories overlap with increasing complexity, sometimes a single word from one intersects the other, but there is never any confusion and the timing of Noreen Kershaw’s production is precise and carefully matched so that unaccompanied speech is as much part of the score as the sung passages, making the whole into a dramatic cantata.

In its pared down simplicity, this could just become a concert piece but mounting it as a piece of theatre carries its emotional charge out into the audience. It’s a little gem.

Reviewer: Howard Loxton

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