Theatre review: Aspects of Love

Posted on: 21 July 2010 by Mark O'haire

It is not often that a musical is better the second time around – and in a scaled-down version – but this is indeed the case with Aspects of Love.

Trevor Nunn’s stylish new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 20-year-old show is being performed now at the enterprising Menier Chocolate Factory.

Alex, a young student travelling through 1940s France falls in love with the alluring actress Rose Vibert. As the pair embark on a passionate affair, the unexpected arrival of Alex’s artist uncle, Sir George Billingham, changes their lives forever. A complex web of affairs and relationships spanning three generations of a family develops over the next two decades as both romance and financial prosperity flourishes and then flounders.

Based on a 1955 novel by Bloomsbury group member David Garnett, this tale of passion, love and loss is staged with great charm and e’lan with an excellent seven-piece band and up-close and intimate feel that the more elaborate, some might say ‘overblown’, West End production lacked. Lloyd Webber’s rich, melodic score, with lovely lyrics by Don Black and Charles Hart and the beautiful, memorable tune Love Changes Everything echoing throughout the show, gives the musical a lush, sensuous and emotionally wrenching feel.

Director Trevor Nunn draws deeply affecting performances from his tip-top cast, of whom Broadway star Michael Arden as Alex, Katherine Kingsley as Rose and Dave Willetts as Uncle George stand out.

Furthermore the mood and atmosphere is greatly enhanced by the simple yet effective staging with an evocative recreation of Uncle George’s splendid French villa complemented by images signalling time and place projected on a small screen above the stage.

I expect you will be like me at the end singing the praises of this exquisite jewel of a show that fully lives up to its title by revealing the many aspects of love.

By Laurence Green

Where: Menier Chocolate Factory

When: Plays until 26 September 2010

Box Office: 020 7907 7060

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