LOVEBITES: White Bear Theatre, London.
Reviewed 5th April 2018
This is the UK premiere of the critically acclaimed Australian musical LOVEBITES. The production introduces the audience to seven couples as they first fall in ‘love’. Questioning where, when and how people fall in love; whether it is something as simple as buying a single poppy or as hilarious as having a major toilet dilemma (you’ll have to see it to understand this one).
The four members of the cast Charlie Bowyer, Alasdair Melrose , Ariane Sallis and Jessica Tripp are onstage throughout the show accompanied by the musical director, Tim Shaw, on the piano. Within such a small venue the actors are in the spotlight at all times and still manage to change character, scenario and setting effectively. Each performer gets their chance to shine as they take on an array of characters.
This revue-style musical launches quickly into the action of showing how each couple met and instantly had the audience laughing and smiling through the first act. In an interesting twist, during the second act we find out more about each couple, this time from the other partner’s perspective – this really helped round the show off and pull all the strings together.
The lyrics, by James Millar, are both funny and touching. Repetitive enough to become catchy, but not enough that the audience gets bored. In fact, each couples moment in the spotlight was about the right length of time which meant no restless audience members. One minor complaint was that seeing as the show had no fixed date one would assume it was set in present day, in which case one of the songs referring to same-sex marriage in Australia being illegal may need to be refreshed in light of their recent legalisation.
Considering the small stage and limited props the cast utilised the space very well and given the somewhat awkward nature of the seating ensured that no audience member were stuck looking at someone’s back.
The concept is a great one. Definitely good for fringe venues such as this where the setting is so intimate. It’s almost like listening to someone gossiping about their friend’s relationships. No doubt it would attract a lot of attention if it were to take on some of the festivals such as Edinburgh Fringe and Camden Fringe although the longevity and mass appeal may be limited. Some performances do need work, a little clean up here and there and perhaps some more vocal work for some. However it does make for a entertaining night out. So if you’re in London and stuck for something to do I’d definitely recommend catching this interesting show while you can.
LOVEBITES plays at the White Bear Theatre until the 21st April. For tickets and information click here.
Photo Credit: Pete Le May