EFR - Reviews of Love's Wild Desire

Love's Wild Desire

Mon 8th – Thu 11th August 2011

reviews

Rebecca Tatlow

at 11:25 on 9th Aug 2011

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Described in the program as a pastiche on love, I am reluctant to call 'Love's Wild Desire' a play owing to the lack of any substantial plot development. It is a collection of poems, songs and dances all linked by the theme of sexual love. This theme is presented in an extremely limited sense with the major focus falling on the social issues of gender and courtship. It is not until the closing minutes of the show that it is even suggested that falling in love is meant to be a source of joy. Moreover there was an evident lack of desire portrayed by the young actors. It is difficult to tread the line between realism and comedy when replicating romance but often a few of the actors seemed to desire not the object to their affection but to leave the stage as quickly as possible.

Despite the confused and overextended concept, there were a few individuals who endeavoured to act. Charris Gabaldon, playing the Harlequina, admirably managed to smile throughout even while the staging and props prevented the show's smooth progress. Korinza Shlanta also stood out as one of the more confident singers with good presence in solos and group numbers alike. However, a memorable performance was provided by Ala Tiata whose roles ranged from the super-macho Olympian Mars to a persecuted and outcast bastard. His solo of romantic reconciliation between the sexes was performed with pleasing panache and convincing change of mood which facilitated the climax of the show.

As well as poetry, this piece combined musical and dance interludes. The songs by Handel and Purcell were challenging and demanded total confidence and very good diction in order to maintain interest. Unfortunately this and the balance issues encountered at the start proved too much for the cast. The dances were regrettably underrehearsed, repetitive and thwarted by the cramped staging.

One of the plot devices which worked well was the two Harlequins' direct intervention through the physical movement of the other characters who were both suitably pliant and frozen whilst the mime occurred. However, other devices such as the wands wielded to achieve this pause in the action and the rumbling which occasionally shook the stage left me more than bemused.

At one point, the characters of Damon and Chloe performed an unnecessary, lewd act upon a fan which had some members of the audience wincing in their seats. Moreover, this bizarrely inappropriate moment was completely at odds with the piece's overriding obsession with virginity and yet provoked absolutely no reaction from the cast. However, this shouldn't have been surprising since this exploration of the workings of the heart generally felt flat.

These problems aside, the overall reason why 'Love's Wild Desire' does not work is that concept upon which it is based is not sustainable for the duration of the show. The language becomes monotonous and I was surprised that, considering the mixture of periods used in regard to costume, this was not developed by the inclusion of modern songs and music which also would have helped with pacing. The entire show was unfortunately prevented from achieving any emotional engagement by the dry and demanding script.

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Joe Nicholson

at 10:47 on 10th Aug 2011

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Love’s Wild Desire describes itself as a “pastiche of love, seduction, courtship, marriage”. Such a seemingly enigmatic disclaimer seems dubious from the outset, and my suspicions were regrettably confirmed as the performance continued, becoming a confused and lengthy piece lacking in any solid narrative structure.

The production opens with the appearance of two mimes, whose costumes are good and whose acting is satisfactory, if a little awkward to watch. However, it soon became apparent that this was as good as the show was going to get. Ala Tiatia and Korinza Shlanta, who played Mars and Venus as well as members of the ensemble, were by far the best actors in the cast: both exhibiting fantastic singing voices which proved a huge contrast to the vocal skills offered by some of the other players: notably the performances of Nate Clair and Abbi Callahan, the mortal man and woman at the Mount Olympus scene. Both were visibly nervous, and the unintentional effect of their characters seeming weak compared to the gods above them did little to ease the discomfort of the audience.

Unfortunately, a large problem with the performance was the lack of confidence of many of the actors, many of which seemed downright miserable. The differences in ability within the cast underlined the clumsy appearance of the production: many of the speeches were lengthy and boring, giving the uneasy appearance of a school director attempting to involve as many actors as possible, regardless of the consequences for the actual production. There were also some blundering decisions with costume in merging the “contemporary” casting with an eighteenth-century saloon ensemble, which did not help the ungainly appearance of the whole affair.

Many elements of the apparently disorganised script were equally embarrassing to watch, such as the unexplained masque ball scene and many examples of clumsy dancing, although, to be fair, much of this was the fault of direction rather than the individual performers, who were heavily restricted by the crowded stage. The production, instead of presenting an astute musing on the nature of love, provided a drawn-out and repetitive depiction of courtship which swamped the narrative.

Love’s Wild Desire proved an unsatisfying watch, with the few better actors restricted by a confused and ungainly direction. A far from entertaining performance which was woefully amateurish from start to finish.

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Comments

Peter Powers; 31st Aug 2011; 15:53:08

Thank you, Rebecca and Joe for not holding back. This production was literally the worst show I have ever seen. I've thought about it - 4th grade plays are more entertaining to watch.

The cast looked painfully uninvolved, and the lack of emotion in the voices was horrific. WTF with the fan?! That was nasty.

I do agree that the harlequina was great. She stood out as one of three good actors in the group. Mars and his wife were good. Everyone else should quit now.

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