REVIEW: ASPECTS OF LOVE (Southwark Playhouse) ★★★

Although not premiered until 1989, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Aspects of Love’ was first conceived in 1979, when he and Tim Rice were approached to write some songs for the movie version of the David Garnett novella.

The movie was shelved but this initial spark began the ten year journey to the fully staged musical (with lyrics eventually written by Don Black and Charles Hart) which some thirty years later is now being produced at the Southwark Playhouse after a successful run at Manchester’s Hope Mill theatre.

This romantic musical melodrama (for a melodrama is most definitely what it is) centres upon the romantic entanglements of Alex Dillingham, several members of his family and a charismatic actress, Rose Vibert. The action is mainly set at the home of Uncle George (Jerome Pradon), where Rose and Alex escape from Paris for a country sojourn near the Pyrenees!

This scaled back production was off to a shaky start with its tinny, synthetic sounding electric piano and thin voiced, buttoned-up performance of ‘Love Changes Everything’ from leading man Felix Mosse. However, things were quickly looking up with the arrival of Kelly Price, whose performance as Rose Vibert totally stole the show.

As we journey throughout the needlessly lengthy two hours and forty minutes, the story weaves a web of mildly incestuous relationships between Alex, Uncle George and various females – most eye-wateringly between Alex and George’s daughter (Alex’s cousin) Jenny (Eleanor Walsh).

‘Aspects’ has a nice score with some hummable tunes and there are moments where the sweeping melodies and strong vocal performances carry one off on a wave of romantic ecstasy (‘Seeing is Believing’ is particularly enjoyable) but these are too few and far between to warrant the show’s excessive running time.

The cast are all very strong and the production flows nicely from one scene to another, though one can’t help but feel one is watching a poor man’s ‘A Little Night Music’ with none of that show’s inherent wit or humour. ‘Aspects of Love’ represents a pleasant enough evening but look elsewhere if you’re after something breath-taking.

Reviewed by Jody Tranter
Photo: Pamela Raith


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