17
Dec
15

I Want To Know What Love Is

 

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I Want To Know What Love Is

A QTC & The Good Room Production

Brisbane Powerhouse

Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre

December 16 – 19 2015

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

THIS IS FOR YOU

812 anonymous love stories. 500,000 rose petals. 60 minutes of pashing and dashing on a rose-strewn rollercoaster ride through love’s loopy terrain. A joyous and heartbreaking trip inside the throbbing theatrical party of the year!

 

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I love this show. I love its heart. I love its guts.

 

 

I love the way it begins so innocently, so beautifully simply and comically, and then worms its way into your soul only to shred each one of us into little itty bitty pieces using our own memories, drawing on the experiences that didn’t kill us but made us stronger. Finding that one true love, missing the one chance with that random stranger and having your heart (and maybe other parts of your body) broken multiple times by a massive cunt, before covering our world in rose petals and reminding us that we are in fact LOVED.

The formula is simple, but the complexity is thrilling and the overall effect makes I Want To Know What Love Is the purest, most joyous and heartfelt theatrical production of the year. Again.

The opening sequence shares the bright white light of an iPhone torch piercing the darkness and the sound of self conscious breathing. Quick, uncertain steps patter across the space and someone sets up a standing mic. A spotlight reveals Tom Cossettini, delightful once again. He treats us to an increasingly confident rendition of Young and Beautiful. A deliberately strained and stilted voice becomes rich in tone and cheeky with brazen confidence as he serenades an audience member lit by an unexpected special beneath a cascade of rose petals. This is the first of many joyous moments, a red herring prelude to a darker, more disturbing segment.

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It’s a startling mood change – and I knew it was coming – with Cossettini joined by Caroline Dunphy and Amy Ingram, demonstrating all the playfulness, competitiveness and polite turn-taking of every configuration of a relationship before it ends bad. And then it ends bad.

Margi Brown Ash brings new energy and a completely different quality to the production. Where Carol Burns approached much of the original material with her quiet, elegant reserve, Margi Brown Ash attacks it with unique vigour and wide eyed, full throttle, devilish delight. Each actor in this small company has discovered the delicacy of the more sensitive submissions and they treat the tales with the utmost respect, while giving some of the other anonymous stories the spectacularly sordid treatment they deserve, all for our entertainment and amusement, and for theirs, I’m sure. There’s certainly a voyeuristic aspect, and a number of times when some of us would like to leap over the seats to join the performers, in the riot of rose petals and splendour and grit and goodness and LOVE. What? Just me?

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Icona Pop’s cute and angry I Don’t Care underscores the sweeping and leaf-blowing of petals out of the way as if they’re shattered pieces of each heart, pieces of each person, which we offer to another and demand to have returned to us once the thing is over. Then there are the pieces a lover – or abuser – takes forcefully away from us. These pieces are carried away the moment the wind changes, or stuffed cruelly into a pocket so no one else can ever have them.

How do we put ourselves together again when some of the pieces are gone forever?

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Against a brilliant pulsing heartbeat of a soundtrack (the lifeblood of the show) by Lawrence English, Jason Glenwright’s lighting perfectly complements Kieran Swann’s design, creating many moods within a splendid setting. It’s a Catherine Martin styled American Beauty fantasy sans the tub, the nakedness and the convenient petal placement, although none of those elements would be out of place here. There are many more petals used this time. Masses and masses of them, thousands in fact, fluttering down from above, then teeming like rain, and then released from yellow plastic bags and scattered joyfully across the space. With great passion and fury they’re later pushed and swept and kicked and tossed into the air, poured over the actors, almost smothering them, just as any great…and terrible…love will do.

This is theatre as therapy, almost cathartic, leading everyone into themselves and along their own (don’t say it!) … JOURNEY. THERE. I SAID IT.

The stories are ours…well, the stories are yours. If you submitted your story online we got a glimpse of your life, your love… Johnny BalbuzienteIt’s an intimate show, perhaps in some ways better suited to the smaller, more intimate space of the original studio. But it’s become a bigger, slicker operation in the powerhouse theatre (“The Lovebox”), allowing a greater number of people to see it (and see it again!). How lucky are we? This is a company with a LOT of love to give!

Cancel everything and go see I Want To Know What Love Is.

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This show is an editorial and directorial gem, collating so many moments of so many lives that I imagine it would be possible to create a dozen or more episodes using the stash of unused material. Perhaps we’ll see a YouTube series yet, or a never-ending series of books in the style of WOL. But don’t wait for those! Director, Daniel Evans is a busy, busy guy!

THIS IS A PASH AND DASH AFFAIR

– DANIEL EVANS

Your best chance to experience the real-life equivalent of Love Actually this festive season is to see I Want To Know What Love Is before it finishes this weekend.

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1 Response to “I Want To Know What Love Is”


  1. December 18, 2015 at 7:37 am

    What a brilliant, joyous experience – I’m going back for thirds tonight!


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