Love Steals Us From Loneliness, Thursday 8th December, Chapter Arts Centre. Reviewer: Sarah Harris and Khuram Mahmood.
If you’ve ever been to see a play at Chapter Arts Theatre, you’ll know they’re not the typical type you would come across at say Cardiff’s New Theatre or Millennium Centre. Often acted out within a small room, with slightly over a dozen audience members and usually a cast made up of less than a handful of people, performances at Chapter are often intimate and intense. Love Steals Us From Loneliness, is the latest production put on at the centre. The original book was written by Gary Owen shortly after the heartbreaking years of 2007 and 2008 in his local town, Bridgend, in which a shocking 28 people chose to end their lives. The story follows the course of events after one tragic night, which shaped the lives of the people involved forever. Owens manages capture what it’s like to be a teenager set against the backdrop of a rapidly expanding world, with allusions to the economic crisis, the struggles of transition, to adulthood and an interesting aside into the supposed sexuality of Rhys Warrington’s skittish and doe eyed Scott.
The play shares its time between the past and present, with the first half focusing on the fallout between the couple of Lee and Catrin (Evelyn Campbell) after a boozy Halloween party gone south. The set design for most is relatively sparse and you’d be forgiven for wanting a little more. However as the story unfolds the roles of each component part becomes clearer, the suffocation felt by the audience in the seemingly confined space mirrors the sexual tension between Scott and Catrin and amplifies it to a degree where to becomes tangible and engrossing, a testament to the chemistry of both Warrington and Campbell. Additionally, the lo-fi karaoke and brutal-verging-on-a-tad-too-brutal quips of Catrin present the story as the antonym of pretension and makes it feel all the more gritty, realistic portrayal of your average night down the town.
The second half admittedly begins a little sluggishly, following the incident, several characters gather and the timeline jumps between each of them, often at a pace which will leave you wondering what was being said four pieces of dialogue beforehand, an uptake in pace from the first half. However, it settles into a consistent rhythm, Mags (Emma-Jane Goodwin) and Becky (Rebecca Jane Hammond) dominate with strong performances, in particular Goodwin whose tearful and powerful performance left very few dry eyes in the audience.
Love Steals Us From Loneliness is a treat for those who enjoy an intimate and claustrophobic character portrayal through the lens of modern youth culture and its struggle to find a sense of belonging and purpose, with engaging, moving performances rooted in reality.
by Sarah Harris and Khuram Mahmood