THEATRE: Burglar steals a heart

A LOVE song can help change people’s lives. The actors appearing  in the comedy  Love Song have certainly faced new challenges in rehearsing the work.

Theo Rule, a master of physical comic roles, is cast in Stooged Theatre’s production as Beane, a toll-booth operator who hides away as a recluse in a barely furnished flat and is verbally challenged.

One night he comes home to find that his flat has been burgled. Not only that, but the female burglar is still there, and she berates him for not having the mementoes that people cherish.

The burglar, Molly, is played by Giverny Lewis in this show that has a week’s season at Newcastle’s Civic Playhouse, opening on March 6.

Lewis notes that she has frequently played characters who become tougher as a story develops.

‘‘This is different,” she said. 

“Molly becomes softer as she interacts with Beane, although she sees nothing wrong with the horrendous things she is doing.”

Beane and Molly gradually fall in love, with their relationship a marked contrast to that of Beane’s sister, Joan (played by Amy Vee), and her husband, Harry (Matt Graham).

Joan is a tough businesswoman, firing people for no more than bursting into tears. She and Harry live ordered lives and are continually bickering.

For popular singer Amy Vee, this is the first non-musical role she has played since studying drama at university.

“It’s nice to be out of my comfort zone,” she said.

Matt Graham sees Harry as well-meaning, though he, like Joan, has lost the romantic ideals of their early married life.

“They still enjoy each other’s company, but he’s very pragmatic and logical. He’s also antagonistic and baits people a lot,” he said.

As director John Wood explains, Beane and Joan had childhoods that weren’t ideal, and this affected their adult lives. But gradually, as a result of Molly’s entry into their lives, both couples learn how to interact with other people.

Theo Rule said Beane remarks at one point that love songs have just been noises in his ears for most of his life. Now they make sense to him.

Love Song, by American playwright John Kolvenbach, was given its premiere production by Chicago’s renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 2006. A London staging the following year saw the play win an Olivier Award nomination for best new comedy, with high praise for the snappy dialogue exchanges.

The play, which has unexpected twists as the story develops, has been popular with audiences.

John Wood said Love Song was about people accepting their faults and changing their lives, with  Rule adding that everyone seeing the show would recognise faults they suffer and hopefully be inspired to do something about them.

When the comedy was given its Australian premiere by the Melbourne Theatre Company in 2008, one reviewer said: ‘‘It manipulates your emotions in much the same way as a good pop song. But there’s nothing wrong with that, when it’s as well achieved as it is here’’.

The play is recommended for audiences aged 14 and over.

 Love Song can be seen at the Civic Playhouse nightly at 8pm from Wednesday, March 6, to Saturday, March 9, plus a 2pm Saturday matinee. Tickets: $25. Bookings: Civic Ticketek, 49291977.

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