Wilmas Rating ****
Brockley Jack Theatre
Performance date: 25th October 2013
When Love Story came to the West End in 2010, I was blown away and quickly it became one of my favourite shows. I have played the CD so many times since then, the case has lost its clasp and now, just flops open and closed! So you can imagine my delight when I heard the show would be making its off-west-end premiere at the Brockley Jack Theatre and of course I snapped up the opportunity to go and see it.
Love Story is based on the 1970 novel by Erich Wolf Segal (which later became a film). The story is beautifully simple, following love throughout its life, from the first meeting of two people to the sad end. The music (by Howard Goodall) is one of the most beautifully simplistic pieces I have ever heard.
Jenny (played by Caroline Keating) is a pianist who falls in love with Oliver (Jonny Muir) and gives up her dream of going to Paris to study music, in order to allow him to finish law school.
When the show begins, the overture is played on the piano by a girl we assume is the Musical Director. It is only when she stands up and starts speaking, that we realise that this is our lead character. A brilliant way to demonstrate her love for the piano and something the west end version seemed to miss (from what I recall).
Jonny Muir gives a great performance as preppy Oliver Barrett. Having just graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, it is great to see new talent in the spotlight. The talent isn’t all from the younger actors though. From the moment Lesley Molony opens her mouth, you realise she is something special. It would have been nice to see her shine in a larger role but her previous theatre credits speak for themselves. The rest of the cast is strong for a fringe show, despite a couple of dodgy American accents.
This was my first time at The Brockley Jack Theatre. Their no re admittance policy to the 90 minute show tested my bladder to the extreme and I had to fight to be allowed back in, which didn’t make for an overly pleasant experience. I feared for my life slightly when a man in the pub (who insisted he was Al Pacino), offered me an abundance of different drugs, insisted he was going to be on X Factor next year and tried to insist I take his phone number as we could be best friends!
Despite my traumatic venue experience, this is a brilliant musical and a production that breathes more life into it than the west end version. It would be great to see this show transfer somewhere a little more centrally.