‘So real at times I both winced & kissed my teeth’: LOVE ME NOW – Tristan Bates Theatre ★★★★

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Shanine SalmonLeave a Comment

Tristan Bates Theatre, London – until 14 April 2018

He never loved me. Not even for a moment.

It’s weird when you see what you think was your own private pain, your own personal grief, felt so long ago, written on stage as an experience universal enough to have every woman in the room nodding and gasping. Meanwhile, the men – the fucking men – laugh inappropriately in all the wrong places. They’re laughing at her. Her desperation, her neediness. By extension, they’re laughing at me.

B (Helena Wilson) is that woman experiencing what so many of us go through in our 20s: the ill-advised “friends with benefits” with an old uni friend she’s actually desperately in love with. She’ll do anything it seems to keep it going; anything but actually be honest about how she feels.

A (Alistair Toovey) is the charming bastard getting his end away while he searches for the real thing elsewhere.

Both leads are completely believable each projecting their own share of wit & vulnerability. They’re sexy together, they work together, but mostly when they are pretending they aren’t. These are layered roles and both actors handle them superbly. They work because they are real enough. You see why he goes back, you see why she lets him. You see why it may never actually be the last time.

The staging is sparse but works in drawing your attention to what this drama is truly about. The bed is centre stage, as are the different interpretations of what happens in it. The floor is as messy as the emotions. There’s a lot of booze flying around.
The drama is occasionally hard to follow as the timeline chops and changes and you struggle to keep up certainly in the first half. Why do so many plays do this at the moment? It’s not needed, certainty not here.

The drama would be more powerful without it. I felt perhaps the writer, Michelle Barnette, was flexing her wings and playing with the form, but I wish she’d had the courage just to tell her tale.

I also wasn’t really sure what point was made with the introduction of nice(ish) guy C. The acting by Gianbruno Spena was fine but the role felt underwritten and a little less realistic than the others. As if the playwright too was just much more interested in A.

Love Me Now made me cry. Actually, my past made me cry, but Love Me Now made me confront it. It’s a bittersweet work, so real at times I both winced and kissed my teeth. If – like me – you recognise the story all too well, it’s not an easy work – no light-hearted shagging romp. Its ambiguity is as heart-wrenching as its certainty.

But for all the pain it made me remember, it was never a dull ache.

Love Me Now is on until 14 April https://www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/whats-on/love-me-now

Shanine Salmon on Twitter
Shanine Salmon
Shanine Salmon was a latecomer to theatre after being seduced by the National Theatre's £5 entry pass tickets and a slight obsession with Alex Jennings. She is sadly no longer eligible for 16-25 theatre tickets but she continues to abuse under 30 offers. There was a market for bringing awareness that London theatre was affordable in an era of £100+ West End tickets – Shanine’s blog, View from the Cheap Seat, launched in April 2016, focuses on productions and theatres that have tickets available for £20 and under. She is also quite opinionated and has views on diversity, pricing, theatre seats and nudity on stage. Her interests include Rocky Horror, gaming, theatre (of course) and she also has her own Etsy shop. Shanine tweets at @Braintree_.
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Shanine Salmon on Twitter
Shanine Salmon
Shanine Salmon was a latecomer to theatre after being seduced by the National Theatre's £5 entry pass tickets and a slight obsession with Alex Jennings. She is sadly no longer eligible for 16-25 theatre tickets but she continues to abuse under 30 offers. There was a market for bringing awareness that London theatre was affordable in an era of £100+ West End tickets – Shanine’s blog, View from the Cheap Seat, launched in April 2016, focuses on productions and theatres that have tickets available for £20 and under. She is also quite opinionated and has views on diversity, pricing, theatre seats and nudity on stage. Her interests include Rocky Horror, gaming, theatre (of course) and she also has her own Etsy shop. Shanine tweets at @Braintree_.